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.

Friday, June 28, 2013

June 28, 2013

Economics & Finance

Analysts say Venezuela to devalue Bolivar by stealth
Venezuela will look to weaken the bolivar this year without making an official devaluation of the currency, as it tries to boost revenue and narrow the budget deficit, according to a survey of analysts. The nation will step back from formally devaluing the bolivar for the sixth time in nine years, said eight out of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The government could instead restart an internal swap market for dollar-denominated bonds after October, said Efrain Velazquez, partner in economic consultancy Azpurua Garcia-Palacios & Velazquez. In that market, companies would be allowed to trade bonds for dollars at a weaker rate to finance imports, he said. Caracas-based Ecoanalitica calculates an alternative market could trade at about 15 bolivars per dollar, more than double the official rate of 6.3 per dollar. “Such a market would be an implicit devaluation, as it would improve the fiscal accounts of the government and state oil company,” said Jose Luis Saboin, an economist at ECOANALITICA. (Bloomberg, 06-26-2013;

Finance ministry: Second sale of US dollars through SICAD will take place in July
Authorities have announced both a reduction in the waiting time for acquiring US dollars and a re-launch of the Ancillary Foreign Currency Administration System (SICAD). According to Finance Minister Nelson Merentes says the waiting time for acquiring US dollars was cut in June from 223 days to 103 days, approximately. Merentes said key economic areas will be a priority within the revamped SICA system, which can be allocated by geographic and economic areas. (El Universal, 06-27-2013;; and more in Spanish: El Mundo,

U$D 10 billion needed to reactivate Venezuela's economy
Outgoing FEDECÁMARAS President Jorge Botti says announcements by Minister Merentes are "positive", but adds that the economy needs FOREX to go back to normal. "We need to inject much more FOREX into the economy to get it started." He estimated at at least U$D 10 billion will be needed to pay foreign creditors, restart imports, and increase production. More in Spanish: (El Universal, 06-28-2013;

Venezuela's capital outflows in 14 years estimated at U$D 200 billion
During Hugo Chávez's 14 year tenure in office (1999-2012) and despite almost 10 years of foreign exchange controls (2003-2012), capital outflow from Venezuela amount to some U$D 200 billion, according to Economist Humberto García Larralde. He says price controls have historically failed. Referring to the foreign exchange control policy, he said, "It does not aim at avoiding the outflow of foreign currencies or protecting international reserves, but at the discretionary use of such reserves in the hands of the public sector." (El Universal, 06-27-2013;

Central Bank of Venezuela to define optimum level of liquid reserves
Finance Minister Nelson Merentes says the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry are establishing the adequate level of liquid international reserves used to pay for imports, debts, and other liabilities. "We are working on the reserves. The reserves must be above a certain amount," Merentes said. Over 70% of total reserves are held in gold, and the rest in cash. Based on Central Bank data, reserves were U$D 25.7 billion by May, U$D 1.7 billion of them in cash. Official figures also indicate that assets have continued diminishing and by June 25 international reserves were U$D 24.9 billion. (El Universal, 06-27-2013;

Foreign exchange for tourists discussed
Tourism Minister Andrés Izarra is meeting officials from the Central Bank and the Foreign Exchange Administration Commission (CADIVI) to “fine tune” the foreign exchange processes for tourists visiting the country. (Veneconomy, 06-26-2013;


PDVSA cut to B from B+ by S&P - "Outlook Negative"
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its long-term corporate credit and senior unsecured debt ratings on Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) to 'B' from 'B+'. The outlook remains negative. "Prior to this rating action we assessed the company's stand- alone credit profile (SACP) at 'b+'. "We will reassess PDVSA's SACP during the next 60 days in light of the recent sovereign downgrade but the outcome will not affect our 'B' rating on PDVSA due to the company's GRE (Government Related Entity) status and the likelihood of negative government intervention under a sovereign distress scenario," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Fabiola Ortiz. (Latin American Herald Tribune, 06-25-2013;

Processing at Amuay back at 77% of installed capacity
Amuay, Venezuela's largest refinery with a processing capacity of 645,000 barrels daily, has finally recovered its usual operational levels after an explosion 10 months ago that claimed 40 lives and caused severe physical damages. Facilities are operating at 77% capacity, which is within average for the past few years, according to a report from the Paraguaná Refining Center (CRP). (El Universal, 06-27-2013;

Gas stations on Venezuela-Colombia border remain out of service
Gas stations within the Special Border Fuel Supply System (Safec) in Táchira state remain closed after fuel sales were suspended almost a month ago. Normal gas stations in the state are crowded with drivers trying to fill tanks, but additional fuel is not provided. (El Universal, 06-26-2013;

International Trade

Venezuela surpasses Brazil in 2012 weapons purchases
An IHS Jane's study called "The Balance of Trade" reports weapons imports soared 16% in South America in 2008-2012, climbing from U$D 3.42 billion to U$D 3.96 billion annually.
The report says Venezuela bought some U$D 1.2 billion in 2012, surpassing Brazil, the country with the largest defense budget in the region. The study indicates the trend may continue even after the death of President Hugo Chávez.
(El Universal, 06-26-2013;


Elections Board bars opposition presence at downloading of data from polling machines
There has been a new clash between Venezuela's opposition and the Election Board because the institution has refused to let opposition technicians in during the downloading of data stored in voting machines used during the April 14th Presidential election. Data stored in voting machines and their memory sticks is being transferred to a closed server within the Board, and opposition technicians do not know who has access to this data. More in Spanish: (El Universal, 06-28-2013;

Capriles says taping Machado's conversation was a crime
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski says it is "incredible" that Information Minister Ernesto Villegas and Caracas Mayor Jorge Rodríguez have presented a tape recording as "proof of a conspiracy". He says the only crime is that a conversation between two people at the home of historian German Carrera Damas was taped by the government. Capriles says the audio shows "Maria Corina Machado speaking of her vision on the ongoing process". Government supporters presented a tape of Assemblywoman Machado telling the historian that Democratic Unity Conference Executive Secretary Ramón Guillermo Aveledo had told the US State Department that the only way out of the current political impasse in Venezuela was a crisis, "a coup d'etat or a self coup (by the government)". Capriles says "Ramón Guillermo Aveledo would never propose a way out that is not established within the Constitution, which is absolutely democratic"; and called "a violent way out" the "worst scenario" for Venezuela. More in Spanish: (Infolatam)

Venezuela, U.S. begin talks on restoring relations
As a first step to rebuild bilateral relations, Venezuelan Charge d'Affaires Calixto Ortega has met with US Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Roberta Jacobson. The meeting took place three weeks after Foreign Minister Elias Jaua met with U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, in Guatemala. State Department spokesman William Ostick confirmed that Washington has a strong interest in continuing high level contacts to bring bilateral relations back to normal.  (AVN, 06-26-2013;; Latin American Herald Tribune,; and more in Spanish: El Nacional;

Maduro reasserts Venezuela's commitment to Latin America
During a visit to Haiti, President Nicolás Maduro said Venezuela will continue "playing its role as liberating and uniting engine of a continent which will be great and will have people living in prosperity. "Our people, all of them, shall start counterbalancing each other to overcome living conditions, education, health, culture. They have to be prosperous nations which live in real, participatory, leading and people's democracy," said Maduro at the end of a meeting with his Haitian counterpart Michel Martelly. (AVN, 06-26-2013;

The following brief is a synthesis of the news as reported by a variety of media sources. As such, the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Duarte Vivas & Asociados and The Selinger Group.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 25, 2013

Economics & Finance

Venezuela to ease foreign exchange regime. Venezuela will make its foreign currency system more flexible by reviving a stalled dollar auction scheme in July and after that allowing a revival of a free-floating secondary currency mechanism, a source in the government's economic team said on Sunday. Venezuela has operated currency controls for a decade, and restricted access to dollars at the official rate of 6.3 bolivars are a major gripe for local businesses and a cause of the OPEC member's slowing growth rate. The Finance Ministry source said the government of newly-elected President Nicolas Maduro will in July allow a renewal of the so-called SICAD system. In a first round in March of this year, dollars were sold to businesses for reportedly as much as 14 bolivars apiece. After another SICAD auction, authorities will then allow a revival of a system prohibited since 2010, under which dollars are sold by private brokers at a floating rate determined by a complicated formula linked to bond prices, the source added. That system is known locally as a "swap" mechanism. Both those methods would run alongside the fixed exchange rate system, under which businesses are allowed to access dollars at 6.3 bolivars for some priority goods, such as medicines and essential foods. "The idea is to go with SICAD in July," said the official, who asked not to be named. "Then what we want is to move to a secondary market, a 'swap' market, with the private players." Next month's revival of SICAD is unlikely to bring quick relief. Only U$D 200 million was sold at the auction in March, while economists estimate that the Venezuelan economy needs around U$D 100 million per day to cover the imports it needs. (Reuters, 06-23-2013;

Imports down 11.3% in January-April
Venezuelan imports slumped 11.3% in January-April, according to a report compiled by Bank of America. More in Spanish: (El Universal, 06-24-2013;

70% of Venezuelans support entreunership, private enterprise and aspire to have their own business,” says NEGOCIOS PYME Director Alfredo Sánchez. He said this tendency remains the same in all socio-economic strata and in people of all political tendencies because it “is a Venezuelan vocation very much associated with the desiral component and the wish to live better.” (Veneconomy, 06-21-2013;

Official proposes "cutting supplies" to street vendors to fight "speculation"
The newly appointed head of the Consumer Protection Agency, Eduardo Samán, has said "we are going to cut supplies to street vendors because they buy from wholesalers at an inflated price. We will cut the supply so that those goods and services are sold at controlled prices". Venezuela has thousands of street vendors who work unhampered within the informal economy. Mr. Samán says these people "can make a living without having to speculate". More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias, 06-25-2013;


PDVSA’s first offshore gas output to assist heavy oil production
Initial natural gas volumes from offshore Venezuela will likely assist in the production of heavy crude oil rather than be used for exports. Output from the offshore La Perla field is expected to reach 300 million cubic feet a day by the end of 2013 when it begins production, according to the website of Venezuela’s state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA. The nation plans to invest U$D 22 billion from 2013 to 2019 to develop gas projects. “Initial gas production offshore Venezuela will likely be used to increase the production of heavy crudes,” Rebecca Fitz, an analyst with Washington-based PFC Energy, said in a phone interview Friday. (Bloomberg, 06-24-213;

Petrol smugglers outwit existing controls
Years of frozen petrol and diesel prices have distorted the local liquid-fuel market to the extent that, in the border region with Colombia, fuel transactions in Special Border Fuel Supply (SBFS) stations have been suspended. Sales were brought to a standstill three weeks ago amid official references to possible controls on fuel smuggling, which has been fueled by a profit of VEB 23 per liter vs. prices across the border. Rafael Ramírez, Minister of Petroleum and Mining, said "we are assessing and enhancing our supply in the border zone because we have to prevent the domestic market from growing at its current rate." Ramírez defended the Automated Fuel Supply Plan and called it a success. The core of the plan is its tag or electronic label, which controls fuel volumes sold to each driver. (El Universal, 06-22-2013;

International Trade

Venezuela-Colombia tension hits companies
Tensions between the governments of Venezuela and Colombia have raised concerns among businessmen in both countries. The latest poll conducted by the National Association of Colombian Entrepreneurs found that tensions between Venezuela and Colombia are among the 12 major obstacles to do business. Other obstacles are low demand, high competition, cost and supply of raw material, foreign exchange rate, and smuggling. (El Universal, 06-24-2013;

Logistics & Transport

Drug cartel infiltrates Maiquetía Airport
The Sinaloa Cartel, Mexico's biggest drug cartel has been using the Simón Bolívar International Airport at Maiquetía, for landings and takes offs with no problem: they even had set up an aerial bridge on flight ramp 7 of the auxiliary terminal for their activities. (El Universal, 06-22-2013;

The following brief is a synthesis of the news as reported by a variety of media sources. As such, the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Duarte Vivas & Asociados and The Selinger Group.

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21, 2013

Economics & Finance

Central Bank plans expanded dollar auctions
Venezuela will boost supplies of dollars to importers as it seeks to alleviate a shortage of goods that is fueling the fastest inflation in the region, central bank director Armando Leon said. “In the next two months, the supply of goods and services should normalize,” Leon said. Inflation will slow from May, when consumer prices climbed a record 6.1% in the month, he said. The U.S. currency will be offered through auctions that will begin early in the second half of the year, Leon said. Unlike an earlier system, which was abandoned after one sale in March, small and medium-sized companies as well as individuals will be allowed to enter bids, he said. (Bloomberg, 06-19-2013;

Obtaining US dollars can take up to 208 days in Venezuela
Despite official announcements and promises the FOREX market still faces a bleak outlook. Obstacles in the sale of US dollars have limited business performance. According to a survey conducted by the Venezuelan Confederation of Industries (CONINDUSTRIA) it can take up to 208 days to acquire US dollars. A poll of 400 industrialists shows some "13% said delays in CADIVI (the Foreign Exchange Administration Commission) in providing US dollars amounted to 61-120 days, 40% said it takes around 121-200 days, and 47% said delays were over 200 days." (El Universal, 06-20-2013;

Inventories down 23% in Q1 2013
Difficulties in acquiring FOREX have forced business to lower inventories during the first quarter this year, leading to a 23% reduction, according to ECOANALITICA, which says that this translates into a 20% scarcity level according to official data from the Central Bank. More in Spanish: (El Universal,; El Mundo,

BARCLAY's expects a U$D 6 billion bond issue by September
BARCLAY's Capital is projecting that a bond issue for U$D 6 billion will be tendered by September. Their report says: "Based on adjusted cash flow projections, we expect a new U$D 6 billion bond issue in September or the last quarter this year". It goes on to say that cash flows may become normal in 2014, on the basis of high oil prices and an increase in flows coming from China. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,

Chances for “a social crisis” increase as decisions on FOREX policy are deferred, warns DATANALISIS Director Luis Vicente León. He also says that the lack of timely action has diluted initial optimism over the appointment of Nelson Merentes and meetings between the government and the private sector. (Veneconomy, 06-20-2013;

Top tax collection official detained in alleged corruption case
A top official at Venezuela’s tax collection agency has been arrested on suspicion of corruption and cash worth hundreds of thousands of dollars was seized from an apartment, President Nicolas Maduro said Thursday. Maduro said in televised comments that the National Tax Administration official was detained Wednesday evening. (The Washington Post, 06-20-2013;; Fox News,


Energy minister claims power failures are down by 50% in Venezuela
Electric Power Minister Jesse Chacón says energy consumption has been brought down to "levels reported a year earlier." He announced that 600 megawatts (MW) have been added to the grid. The target is to add 1,000 MW in 100 days. The Minister claims power failures have been reduced by 50%. (El Universal, 06-19-2013;

RUSORO seeks accommodation with the Government
RUSORO Mining has invited the government to sit down to reach a negotiated agreement over their mining operations in Venezuela, and say they are willing to drop the suit they have brought at ICSID calling for a U$D 3.033 billion indemnity for damages. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,

Upset about the price of gasoline? Get some perspective here
Think gasoline is expensive? It’s all relative. The cost of filling up the 39-gallon tank of a Chevrolet Suburban in Turkey is U$D 389.22, while in the U.S. it’s U$D 137. In Venezuela, it’s just U$D 1.56. The price of gas is one of the most universal complaints -- whether it’s teeth gnashing at the water cooler or deadly protests on the streets. This week, we’ve launched new data visualization about the price of gas around the world that shows which countries are most justified in their laments. Hint to my fellow Americans: We’re not even close. (Bloomberg, 06-21-2013;

International Trade

Non-oil exports hit lowest level since 2009
Non-oil exports fell in March to their lowest level since early 2009 in another sign of the economic problems accruing for President Nicolas Maduro's fledgling government. For decades, successive governments have decried the OPEC nation's over-dependence on oil - but done little to put into practice the grandiose words about diversifying the economy. The latest official data shows non-oil exports fell to U$D145 million in March of this year, 37% lower than during the same month in 2012. The only time monthly exports have been lower since 1997 when statistics started being kept, was U$D 144 million in 2009. (Reuters, 06-20-2013;

Logistics & Transport

Discounted rates for importers apply only to port charges
Confusion set in within the maritime community four days after a resolution went into effect offering a 30% discount to all shippers arriving into Venezuelan ports. The mix up is because the announcement posted on the Bolivarian Port Authority's web page on the reduction of tariffs and rates does not make it clear that the change does not apply to payment for services. It is reported that "for the use of surface, grain carriers are paying U$D 6.30, with no discount. Many calculate costs based on the offer by the Port Authority, but when actual port operators are asked they verbally tell you it is a mistake." More in Spanish: (El Carabobeño, 06-21-2013;


Diosdado Cabello: Any move against Maduro will be considered a declaration of war
National Assembly Speaker Diosdado Cabello, who is also first vice-president of PSUV ruling party, says there is still a long way ahead for "Chavismo" under the leadership of President Nicolás Maduro, and threatened that "any move" against the president by dissenters "shall be considered a declaration of war."
"There is a long way ahead for "Chavismo". If the right wing attempts any move against Maduro, it will be a declaration of war; we will take over the streets and take any actions we deem necessary," says Cabello. He went on to say the ruling party has identified each person who did not vote for Maduro in the past election and told government supporters to go out and knock on their doors.
(El Universal, 06-20-2013;

Analysis: Rough honeymoon for Chavez's successor in Venezuela
Wearing sports gear in the national colors and sitting on a sofa in a modest family home, President Nicolas Maduro holds a microphone, chats with locals and expounds on the benefits of socialism. Variations of the scene - on a factory floor, playing soccer in the presidential palace or walking the plains with farmers - play daily on national TV as Hugo Chavez's successor makes "Gobierno en la Calle," or "Street Government," the chosen slogan of his rule. Almost constantly on the road since being elected in April, Maduro has launched a plethora of new schemes, from raising the minimum wage to sending soldiers into city slums to fight crime. (Reuters, 06-20-2013;

Opposition alliance hopes US-Venezuela ties benefit  Venezuelans
After a meeting with US Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, Executive Secretary of the opposition Democratic Unity Conference said the coalition was pleased to see Venezuela-US relations going back to normal, calling it a positive step. At the same time he emphasized that this move does not mean Venezuela's internal affairs are also back to normal. He pointed to several issues the country is facing: human rights violations, economic crisis, shortage, lack of response to challenges at the Supreme Court over April 14 election, and the whole entire crisis. (El Universal, 06-20-2013;

Maduro claims European tour yielded excellent results for the country
President Nicolas Maduro says his tour of European nations has provided excellent results for the nation.
  • In Italy, Maduro called on Pope Francis I and visited with Italian President Georgio Napolitano. He promised Italians "Venezuelan energy" for the next 50 to 100 years, after reviewing joint ventures with Italy's ENI, which call for producing up to 240,000 barrels of oil, and investments over U$D 15 billion to produce another 340,000 barrels in Northern Anzoátegui state. He said they would work with Italian companies to produce food in Venezuela.
  • In France, he met with President François Hollande and proclaimed their determination to forge a “strategic alliance” between the two countries. Maduro described his meeting with Hollande as “very productive,’ and said that a follow-up on the results achieved by the two presidents on bilateral subjects is scheduled for July in Caracas.  Negotiations with RENAULT were also reported.
  • During a meeting with Portugal's Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho he signed 14 bilateral cooperation agreements on food, health, culture, tourism and solid waste collection. The pacts include consolidating a financial partnership with Banco Internacional do Funchal, SA and Banco Espirito Santo, for expansion of their services in Venezuela; as well as the Portuguese cooperation in building a new Caracas-La Guaira freeway connecting Maiquetía airport to the Cota Mil highway that borders the north of Caracas. Also, a deal was made to buy 100,000 tons of frozen food in order to meet shortages.
(Latin American Herald Tribune,; El Universal, 06-19-2013;; AVN, 06-20-2013;; and more in Spanish: El Universal;; Ultimas Noticias,; El Mundo,

The following brief is a synthesis of the news as reported by a variety of media sources. As such, the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Duarte Vivas & Asociados and The Selinger Group.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 18, 2013

Economics & Finance
Debt ratings lowered by doubts on economic plans
Standard & Poor's has lowered Venezuelan sovereign debt rating from B+ to B due to political turbulence that is blocking the reforms that would bolster a sagging economy.  The move by S&P is in line with a B2 note assigned by Moody's Investors Service and one step below B+ from Fitch Ratings. Both Moody's and Fitch share a negative outlook in their ratings, says Reuters. A release by S&P says "the lowered rating reflect the Government's decreasing room for maneuver in carrying out policies that stop the increasing drop in GDP, inflation, and weakening external liquidity". More in Spanish: (El Universal, 06-18-2013;; Ultimas Noticias,

Soaring inflation adds stress to the economy
President Nicolás Maduro claimed he would "tackle" inflation, yet a few days later the Central Bank reported a 6.1% spike in May's inflation. Cumulative year to date inflation rose to 19.4%, and has crushed any chance of meeting the 14% to 16% official target. Pedro Palma, former president of the National Academy of Economics, the economy is in a "prelude" for a drastic scenario and will require a "180-degree turnaround in economic policies." He warns: "what we have now is something similar the last months of Jaime Lusinchi's (1989) and Rafael Caldera's (1996) presidential terms". (El Universal, 06-15-2013;

Scarcities can take 3-6 months to overcome
FEDECÁMARAS President Jorge Botti believes scarcities will not be solved in two weeks, as claimed by Foreign Minister Elías Jaua. "It is impossible in two weeks, it can improve in three months, and be even better in 6 months", he said.  More in Spanish: (El Universal, 06-18-2013;

Central Bank officer claims FOREX supply backlog has been relieved
Central Bank Director Armando León says FOREX allocations to small and mid size business have been met 100% and the remaining areas have been covered by 70%. He stressed that key areas such as food, staples, electric, and machinery have been covered by the Currency Board (CADIVI). More in Spanish: (El Mundo, 06-18-2013;

38 countries beat UN targets to halve proportion of hungry people by 2015
Thirty-eight countries have beaten a U.N.-imposed deadline of 2015 to cut in half the proportion of hungry people.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization on Saturday recognized the 38 countries and urged those still working to meet the U.N. target to redouble efforts. The U.N. General Assembly in 2000 established a set of “Millennium Development Goals” for countries. The No. 1 target was to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, including halving the proportion of hungry people by 2015. The 38 countries include: Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Maldives, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Thailand, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uruguay, Venezuela and Vietnam. (The Washington Post, 06-16-2013;; Fox News,

ENI confirms gas production at Perla by late 2014
ENI's President Paolo Scarioni has confirmed that the first phase at Cardón IV, a joint venture by Spain's REPSOL, ENI and PDVSA, will begin producing some 300 million cubic feet by year end 2014. PDVSA had previously said first phase production would begin in 2013. More in Spanish: (El Universal; 06-18-2013;; El Mundo,

Minister says National Steel Complex exceeds production targets this year
According to Industry Minister Ricardo Menendez, the National Steel Complex in Lara state exceeded production targets this year. He said rebar production is not 90% of the amount targeted for this year, and lamination is 103%, "which means we have surpassed the goals that were designed in the plan." (AVN, 06-14-2013;

Argentina's YPF to join DELTANA gas project
Argentina's state-controlled energy company YPF will join Venezuela's offshore Deltana Platform natural gas project along with state oil company PDVSA and U.S. oil major Chevron Corp, Venezuela's oil minister said on Friday. The Deltana Platform is a project to extract and export natural gas from fields believed to hold some 7 trillion cubic feet. Venezuela has made little progress in efforts to monetize offshore natural gas, and currently imports gas from neighboring Colombia even though it has much larger reserves. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, who signed the agreement with YPF President Miguel Galuccio, did not provide details on what percentage stake the Argentine company would hold. (Reuters, 06-14-2013;

India lowers oil imports from Iran, buys more from Venezuela
India has cut its crude oil imports from Iran by 40% and is replacing them with shipments from Venezuela, Iraq and Omán. India's crude oil imports from Iran dropped 12% in May from the same time frame last year, according to data compiled by REUTERS. More in Spanish: (El Mundo, 06-18-2013;

Venezuela has sixth largest shale oil reserves
The International Energy Agency says global shale oil reserves stand around 345 billion barrels, 78% of which are in 10 countries. The Agency says half of these reserves are in Russia, followed by the USA, China, Argentina and Libya. Venezuela comes in 6th with shale oil reserves around 13 billion barrels, most of it in the Western state of Zulia, on the Colombian border. More in Spanish: (El Nacional; 06-18-2013;

KIMBERLY CLARK will invest VEB 234 million to increase personal care product production
KIMBERLY CLARK Venezuela has met with Trade Minister Alejandro Fleming to outline investment plans that aim to increase production of toilet paper, sanitary towels and disposable diapers. Plans include an investment of VEB 234 million in the next 6 to 24 months. More in Spanish: (Agencia Venezolana de Noticias;; El Universal,; Ultimas Noticias,

Logistics & Transport
Shipping companies require assurances from state companies
The Government has become a large-scale importer, bringing business to shipping companies along with a fair amount of risk. As cases multiply such as that of the infamous PDVAL imports, where the state-owned company held on to containers for several years, shipping companies demand some type of "assurance" prior to doing business with state-owned enterprises. "Every time a state company makes a booking, shipping companies demand some sort of assurance," said the director of one of world's largest cargo companies. (El Universal, 06-15-2013;

Cardinal says Pope should pressure Nicolas Maduro, and focus on democracy, coexistence
Cardinal Jorge Urosa, the Catholic Church's top spokesman in Venezuela, said he expected the pontiff to try to persuade Maduro during their meeting - held yesterday at the Vatican - to cease verbal attacks on political rivals and critics. He said Pope Francis should pressure President Nicolas Maduro to focus on promoting democracy and peaceful coexistence to ease tensions with the socialist government’s opponents. The cardinal said he hopes to see “increased serenity and impartiality in the president’s language” following the meeting. (The Washington Post, 06-16-2013;; Fox News,; and El Universal,

Venezuela court grants freedom for judge who angered Chavez; charges against her remain
Venezuelan authorities on Friday freed a judge who was arrested in 2009 after then-President Hugo Chavez objected to one of her rulings. Her case became a "cause celebre" for the opposition and international human rights groups. Dozens of supporters met Maria Lourdes Afiuni outside the apartment building where she has been under house arrest with cries of “freedom,” as she walked to the street without handcuffs or police escort for the first time in three-and-a-half years. Amid a few tears, she thanked the well-wishers for coming out, but declined to comment further since she’s still under a gag order not to discuss her case publicly. Instead the judge, her daughter and her lawyers went to a church to pray. (The Washington Post, 06-14-2013;; El Universal, 06-14-2013;; Fox News,

Analyst Carlos Romero says: "The Maduro-Ramírez-Cabello troika is the one exercising the power"
Carlos Romero, a doctor in Political Sciences and professor at the Central University of Venezuela, presents a clear, yet moderate approach, and provides views that often contradict mainstream opinion. He disputes the view that there is an ongoing fight for power, saying: "Maduro and Cabello work hand in clove to sustain the power structure. "They and Rangel, Rodríguez, Jaua and others follow a common denominator". (El Universal, 06-15-2013;

Spain, Venezuela renew political dialogue
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo and Venezuelan counterpart Elias Jaua had a meeting Friday in Madrid that proceeded “on very cordial terms,” the ministry said in a communiqué. The note said the meeting also served to re-launch a political dialogue. It was the first meeting between the ministers following the controversial results of April’s special presidential election in the Andean nation. Margallo and Jaua discussed the chief topics on the bilateral agenda, “agreeing to continue the political dialogue re-launched in this meeting,” the Spanish foreign ministry said. (Latin American Herald Tribune,

The following brief is a synthesis of the news as reported by a variety of media sources. As such, the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Duarte Vivas & Asociados and The Selinger Group.