Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Lights Out On Venezuela?

Venezuela and Iran both produce a heavy oil that is popular among Gulf of Mexico refiners in the US and refiners in China.  As it stands with the current sanctions against Iran, Venezuela is probably getting a good deal out of the sanctions -- at least better than Iran.  However, now that the US and Iran are approaching an agreement that could dissolve the economic sanctions, Venezuela has much to worry about.  From Kejal Vyas at the Wall Street Journal:

CARACAS—Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will have to accommodate any additional oil supply into the market in light of the recent easing of economic sanctions on Iran without changes to the cartel's overall production ceiling, Venezuela Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said Thursday.
Mr. Ramirez said how Iranian crude is absorbed into the market will feature highly in discussions next week when OPEC members gather. Venezuela will push to maintain the group's 30-million-barrels-a-day quota, the minister said.
The U.S. and five other world powers reached an agreement on Sunday in Geneva to relieve some penalties on Iran in exchange for moves to cap the Islamic government's nuclear program.
"If this permits Iran to reach its maximum oil production, perfect. Then its production quota is guaranteed in OPEC, which must be respected, and we are going to back that [Iran's] normalization is respected," Mr. Ramirez said.
Venezuela's problems with inflation and toilet paper shortages aren't the end to its economic woes.  Consider this BBC article:
A massive power cut plunged the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, and other cities into darkness on Monday evening.
The Caracas metro ground to a halt and people had to be evacuated from shops and offices. 

President Nicolas Maduro tweeted that the cut had been triggered in the same place as an outage in September, and suggested "sabotage" was responsible. 

Power cuts are common in Venezuela, especially in the inland states, but rarely affect the capital. 
Although Venezuela has large oil reserves it is dependent on hydro-electricity for about 70% of its power. 
The blackout took place shortly after 20:00 on Monday (00:30 GMT Tuesday) as President Maduro was addressing the nation on television.
Blackouts in September were blamed on a vast right-wing conspiracy to sabotage the electrical system.  Oil refineries were not effected by either blackout; instead those effected were households and small businesses in the capital city - a rare event.  With his recently granted power to rule by decree for the next years, Nicolas Maduro may be grasping at straws.

1 comment:

  1. "Venezuela ... hydro-electricity for about 70% of its power."

    An oil exporter thus insulated from oil market shocks? Any nation that can derive 70% of their electric power from hydro is administratively broken if they cannot keep the "lights on" 24x7.

    Venezuela is broken. Did the US contribute to their being broken? Sure. Was it even more than random noise in the international games playing? I doubt it.

    Will the fact that the US played some role in the collapse of Venezuela be overemphasized? No doubt. Big deal. Reluctantly but another burden of a Western Hemisphere policy more than a Century old.