Category Archives: Venezuela diplomacy

Beijing ups Venezuelan oil investments, but refuses Chavista leaders’ plea for a cash bailout

folha_header_08apr13folha_quote of the day_venez-and-china_08apr13Back in April, Brazil’s Folha de SaoPaulo ran an article entitled: The Future of Venezuela Depends on China and highlighted this quote:  Translation: “If Maduzo wins, he’ll have to regain the confidence of the Chinese.”  TOM O’DONNELL, petroleum consultant

Indeed, it is now clear that the short-term strategy of the post-Chavez Maduro-Cabello administration was to escape the country’s severe dollar crisis by convincing Beijing to extend it a $5 billion cash loan alleviating food-import shortages before 8 December elections.  In particular, the cash was to fund a new dollar exchange system (see El Nacional,25 Sept 2013). Continue reading

I’m cited: “(BN) Chavez Buys Enemy U.S.’s Fuel While Lauding Iran”

Presidents Chavez and Ahmadinejad met in Caracas in January (here) and June 2012

I was cited a number of times yesterday in a Bloomberg News article by Nathan Crooks in Caracas and Paul Burkhardt in NYC.  I reprint it below because the authors’ research further illustrates an issue I’ve often stressed here.

That is: in spite of President Chavez’ rhetoric promising to stand by Presidents Ahmadinejad of Iran (and Assad of Syria, and previously Qaddafi of Libya), he is actually in no position to withstand the U.S. sanctions that could be imposed on Venezuela for aiding Iran. Continue reading

Venezuelan Faja Surprise: USA’s Harvest sells not to China but Indonesia

Petrodelta,SA rig in the south of Monagas state, Venezuela (PDVSA 2011 Annual Rept)

In March, U.S.-based Harvest Natural Resources (HNR) had disclosed to shareholders it was in exclusive confidential negotiations with a national oil company (NOC) to sell its 32% stake in Petrodelta SA–a lucrative, mature, medium-heavy Faja oil field in the south of Monagas state, in which PDVSA holds a 60% share.  Thursday evening, Harvest surprised observers by announcing they had signed an agreement with the Indonesian National Oil company, Pertamina.

The big question immediately being asked was: “Indonesia?  Why not China?”  I was quoted at length Friday morning on this question by Bloomberg’s Nathan Crooks in Caracas (See:

Continue reading

Iranian National Oil Company & PDVSA Respond to My Exposé?!

A curious announcement in The Tehran Times: “Tehran, Caracas to ink $2 billion oil deal soon” (29 May, web 30 May) followed on the heels of my exposé about this relationship that was published just two weeks prior.  The Tehran Times’ piece was brought to my attention by James Bourne, Senior Latin American Editor at Energy Intelligence NYC, who requested a comment.  Energy Intelligence has kindly provided GlobalBarrel.com a PDF of Bourne’s piece in their subscriber-only Oil Daily of 31 May, which you can read at this link: Continue reading

My Iran-in-Venezuelan-Oil Study: Summarized in “Tal Cual” today in Caracas; in Spanish

For those who read Spanish:  Today Tal Cual in Caracas carried a detailed summary in Spanish by Jose Suárez Núñez of my study, “Bolivarian Venezuela’s Oil Policy & Iran: A Failed Energy Alliance” (which appeared in Middle East Economic Survey’s [MEES] Energy and Geopolitical Risk for May 2012).

Suárez Núñez is the Tal Cual oil columnist, and one of Venezuela´s most senior oil journalists.  Here are the links: Continue reading

Bolivarian Venezuela’s Oil Policy & Iran: A Failed Energy Alliance

My study of Iran in Bolivarian Venezuela’s oil sector is just out in the May 2012 edition of Energy and Geopolitical Risk-published by MEES: Middle East Economic Survey.  You can read it here: Venezuela_Iran_failed_energy_alliance-Geopolitical-Risk-May-2012-3. Continue reading

PDVSA ships fuel to Syrian regime: Chavez risks sanctions?

[Edited Tues  630 EDT] The Negra Hipólita, a tanker operated by an affiliate of PDVSA, should be arriving at the Syrian port of Banias after a 15-17 day voyage from the Venezuelan refinery at Puerto La Cruz (El Universal, 17Feb12).

Syrian tanks are seen in Bab Amro near the city of Homs,12Feb12. Photo Reuters

Puerto La Cruz produces about 187k bbl/day and, the Negra Hipólito, if fully loaded, will deliver 47,000 (47k) tonnes of diesel fuel to alleviate reported widespread shortages of fuel in Syria. That’s about 330k barrels of fuel usable as home heating oil, or as fuel for Assad’s Russian tanks “indiscriminately” shelling neighborhoods, as in the city of Homs.  Note:

In Vienna, the U.N. chief demanded the Syrian regime stop using indiscriminate force against civilians caught up in fighting between government troops and Assad’s opponents. “We see neighborhoods shelled indiscriminately,” Ban told reporters. “Hospitals used as torture centers. Children as young as ten years old jailed and abused. We see almost certain crimes against humanity.” (Time World, Syrian Troops Shell Central City with Tanks. 17Feb12).

What, however, is the geopolitical significance of this shipment?  Let’s examine three issues:

  1. Chavez’ motivations: Why risk sanctions?
  2. Is this a significant material assistance to Assad’s regime?
  3. Has Chavez blundered by miscalculation? Continue reading

With a USA-dependent oil sector, Chavez can’t help Ahmadinejad

(Edited, 20 Jan.) President Ahmadinejad of Iran visited Venezuela on January 9, and then three of President Chavez’ closest Latin American allies, to search for help. His tour was part of a flurry of diplomacy in the New Year leading up to the imposition of severe new U.S. sanctions on Iran’s ability to export oil, beginning in June.

Presidents Ahmadinejad and Chavez in Caracas (Photo: El Universal)

While these two presidents met in Caracas, U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner was visiting South Korea, Japan and China, and other U.S. officials were Continue reading

A Santos-Chavez Pipeline: Where’s the demand for Latin America’s oil boom?

President Santos of Colombia recently went to Caracas where he and PresidentChavez signed a letter of commitment  for the “Binational Project on the Venezuela-Colombia Oil Pipeline” to run 3,000 km. from Venezuela’s Faja heavy-oil region, west across Colombia to the Pacific port of Tumaco.  (El Universal and El Universal).  After many disappointments in recent years in collaborations with PDVSA, Latin American presidents haven’t endorsed many joint projects lately.  Nevertheless, Santos was beside himself with enthusiasm after the five-hour meeting on 28 November, declaring “Wherever we’ve mentioned this, people’s eyes open wide.” (Reuters)

Let’s look at some data to see if Santos and Chavez are really onto somehing here. Continue reading

Part IV: Another $6.5b in loans: The frustrated Beijing-Caracas courtship

(Greetings! It’s good to be back blogging.)  The common perception is that Chinese oil companies in Venezuela are winning big deals on very favorable terms.  However, as I’ve stressed in previous posts, Beijing is actually very frustrated not to be getting the deals it expects for new Faja heavy oil fields, especially considering its big investments in the Bolivarian state.  More evidence continues to emerge.

From 21-23 November the “10th Meeting of the China-Venezuela High-Level Committee” took place in Caracas at the Hotel Gran Meliá, with something like 400 businesses and state representatives coming from China.    Continue reading