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, February 4, 2014

February 04, 2014

Economics & Finance

Venezuela selloff worsens as U.S. oil exports sink
Venezuela’s plummeting oil sales to the U.S. are exacerbating a collapse in the nation’s debt securities. Bonds issued by Venezuela sank 3% on Jan. 31; a day after data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed that 2013 energy sales to the country are headed for a 28-year low. The tumble in oil exports comes as President Nicolas Maduro faces a shortage of U.S. currency that’s caused consumer prices to soar 56% and foreign reserves to plunge to a decade-low of $21 billion. Dollar shortages helped fuel a record 73% decline of the Bolivar on the black market last year as the country, which imports about 70% of the goods it consumes, struggles to pay billions of dollars in debt to food importers and airlines. U.S. currency obligations to private companies have surged to more than U$D 56 billion, according to Barclays Plc. The government failed to pay U$D 8.7 billion to companies in 2013 that provide goods from grains to toilet paper, researcher ECOANALITICA estimated last month.  Rising domestic demand, declining production at PDVSA and a boom in North America shale oil output are also deepening the drop in exports to the U.S. that began during the government of former President Hugo Chavez. Production declined to 2.45 million barrels a day in December from a daily average of 2.9 million barrels reported in 2012, a Bloomberg survey showed. Venezuela is exporting 640,000 barrels a day to China, according to Economic VP Rafael Ramirez. About 310,000 barrels a day are used to pay back loans, he says. “From a financial point of view, for Venezuela, it’s not very smart,” Russell Dallen, of Caracas Capital Markets: “They obviously have to sell the oil at much cheaper rates because of the freight costs. But it was a political decision.” Credit-default swaps, used to protect against bond losses stemming from non-payment, indicate a 65% chance that Venezuela will halt payments over the next five years, second only to Argentina, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Peter Lannigan, a managing director at broker-dealer CRT Capital Group LLC says. “In Venezuela, the theme in the market for a while now has been, ‘I don’t like the fundamentals, but they’ve got oil. I don’t like the economic policy mix, but they’ve got oil.’ It’s eventually going to catch up with them.” (Bloomberg,

Government says it will present payment scheme for FOREX debt with private firms following review. Rafael Ramírez, Vice-President for Economic Affairs, says the government will establish a scheme to settle the debt owed by the former FOREX Administration (CADIVI) with private importers. He said authorities have already discussed the matter with some sectors. Ramírez added that: "We have the duty to thoroughly review this debt: to see whether its origin is correct, whether it is the result of surcharge. Once we weigh all this, we will hold talks with those sectors willing to work with us. We are going to establish a (payment) scheme." (El Universal, 02-03-2014;

Private sector received only 44% of all incoming petrodollars in 2005-2013. The government's economic diversification plan, calling for greater government intervention, was mostly financed through a massive inflow of petrodollars over the last nine years. However, following a series of expropriations and the establishment of a host of state-owned enterprises, results are not those expected. The balance of payments published by the Central Bank shows that between 2005 and the last quarter of 2013, Venezuela received estimated U$D 641.87 billion in oil exports - and 44% of it (U$D 282.47 billion) was distributed through the FOREX Board (CADIVI), the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), and the Unified System for Regional Compensation (SUCRE) to meet private sector needs, such as imports, remittances, and travel abroad. Despite swallowing 56% of all petrodollars (U$D 359.39 billion), the government created more debt. (El Universal, 02-01-2014;

Trade Minister removed after 15 days in office. President Nicolás Maduro has just named Dante Rivas, a defeated candidate for mayor in Nueva Esparta state, as Trade Minister, in place of former CADIVI head José Khan, who was appointed merely 15 days ago. More in Spanish: (AVN;; El Universal,

Manuel Gómez is the new President of CVG International as of February 3rd. More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,

Oil & Energy

Venezuelan purchases of US oil byproducts rose 10%
Venezuela's purchases of US oil byproducts continue on the rise, according to the US Department of Energy. Data shows Venezuela's imports of oil byproducts from the United States soared 10.6% in January-November 2013, to 83,000 barrels per day (bpd). (El Universal, 02-03-2014;

Venezuela Oil Sales to U.S. at 1985-Low Shows China Cost
Venezuelan oil sales to the U.S. are approaching 28-year lows as the country turns to China amid a shale boom that’s flooding U.S. refineries. Now a Canada-U.S. pipeline threatens to further curb its Gulf of Mexico access. Venezuelan exports of crude and petroleum products to the U.S. averaged 792,000 barrels a day in the first 11 months of 2013, which would be the lowest annual rate since 1985, according to data published yesterday on the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s website. (Bloomberg, 01-31-2014;

Agreement to buy gas from Colombia due in five months
Venezuela is still waiting for a boost in natural gas output offshore to meet gas demand at home without depending on liquid fuels. Production offshore could allow it to honor the gas export agreement entered into with Colombia nearly five years ago, for the Antonio Ricaurte Trans-Caribbean pipeline. The agreement with Colombian state-run corporation ECOPETROL, whereby Venezuela has been receiving 190 million cubic feet per day (mcfd) of gas since 1997, is due next July. In a recent statement, Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA formally told ECOPETROL it would start carrying gas to Colombia through Antonio Ricaurte pipeline for the purpose of initiating the export of 300 mcfpd of gas to Colombia under the Colombia-Venezuela agreement. (El Universal, 02-03-2014;

Venezuela oil price jumps higher
Venezuela's weekly oil basket stayed below the country's desired U$D 100 a barrel floor but jumped higher for the second week in a row. According to the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending January 31 was U$D 97.18, up U$D 1.13 from the previous week's U$D 96.05. (Latin American Herald Tribune, 02-01-2014;


Venezuelan businessmen turn to Miami courts in currency exchange disputes 
More than a dozen Venezuelan entrepreneurs have turned to South Florida civil courts seeking to recover millions of U.S. dollars they claim they are owed for investments made with Venezuelan bolivars. Many say they got scammed on investments prompted by Venezuela’s restrictions to foreign currency. The faulty transactions — at least in one case — stem from the acquisition of underpriced dollars sold at the official exchange rate. (The Miami Herald,

Logistics & Transport

58% of all unclaimed cargo are government imports
General Hebert García Plaza, Minister for Aquatic and Air Transport, says "we have here a boycott and economic de-stabilization" - after finding 130 unclaimed food containers at the port of Puerto Cabello. He said abandoned products include rice and peas, which are highly scarce locally, and expressed concern that policies have not been properly executed after they tried to expedite imports late last year. Port Authority (BOLIPUERTOS) data shows most containers are government imports. More in Spanish: (El Universal,

Airlines still waiting for cash payment
Domestic and international airlines continue to wait for the government to pay up a cash portion of its FOREX debt with the industry, according to a source that asked to remain unidentified - who added that at a 25 January meeting the government asked airlines to identify their most pressing needs and promised that they would pay part of the outstanding debt within a week. "The airlines are still waiting for this payment", says the source. At the same time AEROMEXICO cut the frequency of its flights servicing Venezuela. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;

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.

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