Venezuelan Daily Brief

Published in association with The DVA Group and The Selinger Group, the Venezuelan Daily Brief provides bi-weekly summaries of key news items affecting bulk commodities and the general business environment in Venezuela.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August 07th, 2012

Economics & Finance

EXXON MOBIL insists on suing Venezuela for U$D 17 billion through multiple suits, says Hildegard Rondón de Sansó, a former Supreme Court Justice who is a legal advisor to PDVSA. Sansó, who is also mother in law to PDVSA President Rafael Ramírez, says that duplicating arbitration with lawsuits on behalf of the plaintiff is "judicial terrorism" against Venezuela. More in Spanish: (El Nacional:

TERNIUM and AMAZONIA take on Venezuela at ICSID
The International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has received requests for arbitration by Argentina's TERNIUM and Siderurgia AMAZONIA against Venezuela, on claims over steel products, Both companies have been negotiating with the Venezuelan government since 2009, after expropriation of MATESI (Steel Products), now called Briquetera de Venezuela; and TAVSA ("Tubos de Acero de Venezuela"). No agreement has been reached on payment; three years after both industries were taken over. More in Spanish: (El Universal, 08-07-2012;

Expropriation: A strategy to increase government control
If reelected, President Hugo Chavez will focus all his efforts toward trying to make the shift to socialism irreversible. As he lays out his future government plans throughout his campaign, he is insisting on this course of action. According to the Venezuelan Confederation of Industries (CONINDUSTRIA), from 2002 to June 2012, the government nationalized 1162 companies. Research shows that from 2002 to 2006 only 15 enterprises were expropriated, but from 2007 onwards, that figure amounts to 1147, a whopping 98%. The real cost of this policy puts things into perspective. Estimates by the ECONALÍTICA consulting firm show that the national government has paid U$D 13 billion for expropriations, but still owes former owners U$D 21 billion. (El Universal, 08-04-2012;


Chavez says the first stage of the "Mariscal Sucre" Gas Project will be ready in December, to produce 300 million cubic feet of gas daily. More in Spanish: (AVN, 08-07-2012;ífero-mariscal-sucre-estará-listo-diciembre)

PDVSA will begin exploration in Cuban waters on the Gulf of Mexico, according to CUBAPETROLEO, the Cuban state oil company. It will use equipment previously used by Malaysia's PC Gulf, and Russia's GAZPROMNEFT. More in Spanish: (AVN, 08-07-2012;á-exploración-pozo-aguas-cubanas)

PDVSA exposure is growing due to social spending, according to a report by BANCTRUST & Co. PDVSA has honored its financial obligations and no worries arise as regards debt repayment. The same report indicates that the level of solvency and leverage became remarkably worse during 2011. (El Universal, 08-07-2012;

REPSOL to meet with Venezuela on YPF seizure
REPSOL will meet with Venezuelan officials Aug. 9 to discuss the Spanish oil company’s dispute over Argentina’s seizure of its majority stake in YPF SA, according to newspaper Pagina 12, which cites Venezuela’s Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez. Venezuelan authorities, who last month promised to invest in Argentina to boost oil production, are calling for a friendly solution to Repsol’s conflict with the Argentine government and view the company’s threats to take legal action as "a colonialist attitude", the paper quoted Ramirez as saying. REPSOL has stakes in oil and gas fields in Venezuela. (Bloomberg, 08-05-2012;

Argentina allows currency buying for PDVSA deals
According to Argentine daily CLARIN, that nation's central bank authorized local companies doing business with Petroleos de Venezuela SA to buy U.S. currency. Companies will be able to buy dollars at the official exchange rate when exporting machinery to Venezuela’s state oil company known as PDVSA, Clarin said. Argentina’s YPF SA and PDVSA have recently signed an accord aimed at jointly developing oil and gas projects. (Bloomberg, 08-04-2012;

Political management of the electric industry has increased outages since the takeover of private companies and the creation of CORPOELEC in 2007. The faults usual in the old state company, CADAFE: non compliance with project deadlines, lack of maintenance, and corruption, have now extended to the entire system, according to labor representatives in the area. Outages have multiplies in the interior of Venezuela, and CORPOELEC's own statistics show an increase of 300% in major energy failures since 2007. More in Spanish: (El Universal, 08-07-2012;

International Trade

Venezuela’s admission into the MERCOSUR disturbs most local business which remains convinced that weak competitiveness leaves the country unarmed before the large economies within the bloc, despite offers by President Chávez’ to dialogue and support exports. What worries them most is the strict foreign exchange control that currently establishes the official rate at the completely fictitious rate of Bs.4.30:$. Werner Corrales, former Ambassador to the World Trade Organization, says Venezuela should request application of conditions within Complementary Agreement # 59, which establishes differentiated conditions for sensitive staples, and allow for tax reductions in twice the time Brazil took. (Veneconomy, 08-04-2012; and

Logistics & Transport

Congestion persists at Puerto Cabello, as Chavez predicts trade to increase 300%
Although authorities refuse to speak of "congestion", sources at the port insist on the number of ships at bay and delays in import procedures, saying that some vessels must wait up to three or four weeks for docking facilities. Further, collapsed operations at Puerto Cabello customs have delayed offloading of at least 14 ships now bearing cereals, agricultural products and over 4000 tons of fertilizers, which have been unable to dock. Over 188,000 tons of imported white and yellow corn, wheat and other products such as crude and refined sugar are also in waiting. Delays and the diversion of ships to neighboring ports lead to increased freight costs to Venezuela.  Meanwhile, during a campaign visit by President Chavez to Puerto Cabello, he claimed port redevelopment currently underway will increase trade by 300%. More in Spanish: (El Universal, 08-07-2012;; El Nacional;;  El Carabobeño,; AVN, 08-06-2012;á-comercio-300”; Notitarde,; El Mundo,


Thumbprint ID system stirs fears among voters ahead of Venezuela presidential vote
With President Hugo Chavez in his tightest re-election race yet, some of his opponents are warning that the use of thumbprint readers at Venezuelan ballot boxes could scare away voters, adding to fears about the fairness of the Oct. 7 vote. The country’s electoral council has long used fingerprint scanners at the entrance to polling places to ensure voter identification. But this year, the readers will be hooked to the electronic voting machines themselves. Citizens must press down a thumb to activate the ballot system. Experts say there is no evidence the system has ever been used to reveal voters’ preferences, and most opposition leaders, who stand to suffer if supporters don’t vote, have been eager to assure that the system is safe. (The Washington Post, 08-05-2012;

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