Photo: EFE, retrieved

Reuter’s Alexandra Ulmer and Marianna Parraga have disconcerting scoop on the detention of two Chevron employees in Venezuela.  

According to the piece, Venezuelan intelligence agents arrested two employees of mixed company Petriopar in Anzoátegui State (Petropiar is a joint venture between PDVSA and Chevron, where PDVSA has 70% and Chevron 30%):

Venezuelan intelligence agents arrested the two Venezuelan executives at the Petropiar joint venture in the coastal city of Puerto La Cruz on Monday for alleged wrongdoing, two sources in the oil industry told Reuters. One of the detainees, Carlos Luis Algarra, is a refining expert who Chevron drafted from their Argentina operations, a third source said.

One of the detainees, Carlos Luis Algarra, is a refining expert who Chevron drafted from their Argentina operations

Chevron confirmed the arrests to Reuters through an email:

“Chevron Global Technology Services Company is aware that two of its Venezuelan-based employees have been arrested by local authorities on April 16th, 2018. We have contacted the local authorities to understand the basis of the detention and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of these employees. Our legal team is evaluating the situation and working towards the timely release of these employees,” the company said.

Alexandra and Marianna report that the arrests are probably related to the suicidal purge started by PDVSA president, Manuel Quevedo:

Venezuela arrested two Chevron Corp CVX.N employees, the U.S. oil major said on Tuesday, in what appeared to be the first arrests of a foreign oil company’s direct employees during a purge of alleged graft in the OPEC nation.

It’s difficult to explain these baffling arrests. PDVSA’s production is in a nosedive. Quevedo’s appointment (an army-man completely inexperienced in the oil business) has only contributed to the drop and to massive resignations that are strangling the company.

By setting this precedent, chavismo discourages any investment from its partners in other joint ventures

Instead of facing the obvious and changing course, the government is doubling down on the removal of any civilian with a modicum of knowledge of how an oil company works. Perhaps the decades spent belittling the value of education and technical knowledge has made it impossible for chavismo to figure out how to run anything, from oil to passports.

By setting this precedent, chavismo discourages any investment from its partners in other joint ventures. It’ll probably start a brain drain from qualified employees on other mixed companies, who are PDVSA’s only hope for stopping the production drop.

There’s no sugarcoating this, chavismo will annihilate PDVSA and our economy, unless there’s a regime change.

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