Reuters on Fire


reuters-logoTwo great, eye-opening pieces on Venezuela landed from Reuters yesterday. First, Brian Ellsworth and Eyanir Chinea delve into the inscrutable mystery of ¿dónde están los reales del SICAD? 

The central bank says it allocated $859 million through a new foreign exchange mechanism meant to complement a decade-long currency control system by ensuring importers are able to bring in products ranging from chicken to newsprint.

But business groups representing industries which the government said received U.S. dollars insist that only a fraction of their affiliates got approval for greenbacks, and those that did got only a small portion of what they sought.

Then Marianna Parraga – showing off her spiffy new Houston dateline, cuz braindrain-ain’t-just-a-river-in-Egypt – flexes her investigative muscles on PDVSA Tanker Fleet a.k.a., the SICAD of the Seven Seas:

 With flags and confetti, Venezuela in the last 14 months launched three new oil tankers that exemplify the socialist nation’s ambitions to diversify to Asian markets and give a helping hand to its political allies.

But the tankers from shipyards in IranArgentina and China, have never set sail, according to five sources with knowledge of the company’s fleet, as well as ship tracking data from Reuters showing the ships sitting where they were built.

Both pieces come with a standard compliment of ‘we-asked-the-relevant-office-for-comment-and-they-told-us-to-fuck-right-off’ grafs – somebody should do a mash-up of those! – and both deserve a read. For sheer accumulation of petty insanities, though, the PDVSA Tanker story is hard to top.

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  1. Best part of the SICAD story on the disappearing billions: Nelson Merentes won’t say who got the money because of concern for PRIVACY rights.

  2. bolichicos y bolichicas making money as if it was the end of the world…. The new (and the old) Clase Alta Emprendedora. What a sad country is our ex-country.

    • Somehow I doubt it. Particularly if there are delays which will add penalties.

      Did anyone notice this little gem from Ramirez?

      “We are en route to managing 40 percent of our exports with our own fleet. The routes to China, Japan and India will become profitable,” he said.

      So. They currently aren’t profitable? In addition to the mortgaging, you are operating at a loss on these transactions? Why? Where in any business, be it private, PPP, or SOE, is operating at a loss a feasible strategy and under what political system is this tenable?

      Oh, right. Socialism-cum-feudalism. Time to deliver oil to the Chinese overlords.

    • Love this quote from the NYT:

      “This is the biggest mistake Chávez ever made,” said Axel Ortiz, 20, a student, referring to Mr. Chávez’s choice of Mr. Maduro as his successor.

      I get what this guy is saying from the perspective of a disappointed Chavista that misses the style of the dead comandante. The substance of Maduro is exactly the same though. Demagogy, cheap populism, and piss-poor management.

  3. At this point, the media is having more fun with Venezuela than the Late Night Comedy shows with a freshly aired television evangelist sex scandal. But, where were they all five years ago when anyone with half a brain could see this was coming? Why is a train wreck “news” only after it’s happened and not when it is merely inevitable?

  4. The logistics of transporting oil from Venezuela to China are difficult to say the least and extremely expensive , a round trip from Venezuela to China can take several months just for one cargo so that one aframax tanker can only make max 3 trips a year , transporting oil from Venezuela to China at 15.000 US$ a day ( the freight often rises to arround 20 k US$) through Cape of Good Hope is a load of money . You need a lot of Aframax or VLCC’s to transport the 600 k bls perday which China is reported to be buying from PDVSA.
    I can only guess as to why the tankers are still inoperative , in regard to the one in Iran the answer is easy , as per international rules you cant operate a tanker without an oil pollution insurance and without it being classified as seaworthy by an international classification society ( all of which are either european or US ) so that its likely that EU and US sanctions against Iran dont allow them to issue the relevant certificate thus making the tanker legally non navigable in international waters . In regard to the one in Argentina , Argentinian shipyards are not known by international shipowners as builders of large tankers , they probably lack the technology and knowhow to build one that can operate up to international standards making it very difficult for them to passtheir sea trials .

  5. The Chinese tanker is more of a mistery , Chinese shipyard do have the capability to build large tankers and the system of paying for them via the mortgaging of future oil deliveries make it difficult to think that Pdvsa has yet to pay for them . Which leads me to guess that Its probably Pdvsa which has problems manning the tanker with trained personnel which is causing the delay. The otehr issue is that these very large tankers dont just go into any port , there are only a few places in Venezuela where a very large tanker can be loaded depending on its size , maybe the tanker is so big that they have to wait until some special terminalling facility is built in order to be capable of lifting cargoes from Venezuela . All of the above of course is guess work only Pdvsa or people from the shipyards can answer why the tankers are still grounded.


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