Wednesday, January 23, 2008



For those of you that aren’t Venezuelans, PDVSA is our state-owned oil company and the livelihood of our economy


*** PDVSA’s oil production is down but milk imports are up.

PDVSA’s oil production has declined by some 800,000 barrels per day during the last seven years and it will inevitably keep declining, as investments are significantly below requirements. This means that oil exports, the economic lifeline of Venezuela, have also been declining, not only because production is down but also because domestic consumption is sharply up. Meanwhile PDVSA, led by the future liberator of Bolivia, Rafael Ramirez, has opened a new division called PDVAL, PDVSA Alimentos, to import food (faster than producing it). The opening of this new division has been a major event in the State of Zulia. It is born, says Ramirez, “to solve the problems of supply of basic foods, in answer to the existing situation of hoarding, contraband and detour of products” in the country”. PDVSA is engaged, Ramirez says, in a struggle to prevent the food from going to Colombia (although for many years the food has been coming from Colombia!). PDVAL is working together with the
National Guard and has the full cooperation of the workers of the oil company, all dressed in red.

PDVSA is importing food through Bariven, an affiliate company. Bariven is fully and enthusiastically engaged in emergency imports of milk, tuna in cans, soy oil, margarine, tomato paste and other products. Their offices in the U.S., Argentina and other countries place ads in the newspapers and send letters to food exporters to ask for their offers of chicken, beef, eggs and other foodstuffs. “This is not a temporary program” says Ramirez, who is probably being trained at MAKRO, “we will continue distributing food through our network of commissary stores”.
Ramirez approaches the task with revolutionary zeal: “We will import 125,000 tons of food and will continue importing until we defeat the hoarding and the lack of supply”.

In these days Venezuela is a strange country all right. New police equipment is donated to Bolivia while our crime rate is the highest in the hemisphere. Houses are built in Cuba while Venezuelans have no homes of their own. New refineries are financed or promised for 14 countries around the world while Amuay and Cardon have fires and accidents every other month and gasoline shortages flare up in different places of the country. Top food importer Hugo Chavez claims that the FARC are a civilized political group and that the government of Alvaro Uribe wants war. PDVSA is planning to open a furniture division and has already become the biggest food distributor in the country.

Ii seems like PDVSA geologists will not be talking anymore about the Cretaceous and the Oca Fault but about the price of eggs and how many tons of milk are coming in. Production Engineers will not bother so much about pressures and temperatures and drilling muds but about margarine or about who is the real owner of ProArepa. I am happy that my geological career is over and I do not have to start talking about cassava and corn as part of my job.

PDVSA, Platanos de Venezuela S.A.? Not for me.

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