Vultures Circle for Venezuela’s Oil Reserves
Last week we wrote about the dire state of Venezuela and how its citizens are being forced to flee to the surrounding countries.
Venezuela is expected to collapse sooner rather than later and it looks like Russia is ready to pounce on those rich oil reserves.
According to Reuters, the Russian oil company Rosneft has been secretly negotiating with Venezuela’s PDVSA to buy “ownership interests in up to nine of Venezuela’s most productive petroleum projects.”
Venezuela is in massive debt and in order for Maduro’s regime to survive, the country needs to acquire some serious cash.
Russia already owns 5% of ownership stakes, but allegedly this would increase to 14% if the two countries finalize the deal. Rosneft has already helped Venezuela’s state-owned PDVSA stay afloat by sending an advance of a billion dollars for future oil shipments.
So why would Russia do this when both Venezuela’s economy and oil company productivity is at an all-time low?
Well, if the country is unable to deliver the oil or pay the massive debt back, then Russia can get more equity in its oil projects instead. So if the country collapses, it would be in Russia’s best interest.
Not every country is willing to take the risk to do business with the unreliable PDVSA though.
“Rosneft is currently buying and reselling about 13 percent of Venezuela’s oil. China used to be another big customer, but the Chinese have been cutting Venezuela’s credit due to “payment delays and the corruption and crime faced by Chinese firms operating there,” writes Breitbart. “Russia, on the other hand, saw Venezuela’s disintegration as a prime opportunity to grab oil assets at bargain-basement prices. Among other measures taken to protect its investment, Rosneft has hired away some of the PDVSA’s best officials. The endgame may very well see China renewing purchases of Venezuelan oil managed and distributed by Moscow.”
But there’s a reason why Venezuela hasn’t accepted the deal with Rosneft. Reuters reported that Maduro purposely transferred the powers of the National Assembly to the Supreme Court after the Assembly rejected a $500 million deal with Rosneft last year. Maduro then created a new “constituent assembly” and handpicked its members in July to impede the National Assembly.
The Supreme Court had the power just long enough (before the National Assembly got powers back) to allow Maduro to cut oil deals with Russia.
It’s important to note that the U.S. is Venezuela’s number one customer. Some U.S. lawmakers see Russia’s recent interest in Venezuela’s oil reserves as a way to gain control of Citgo.
“We cannot give Putin any opening to affect the flow of oil or toy with Americans’ prices at the pump, and we cannot play Russian roulette with America’s energy infrastructure,” said Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ.)
Goldman Sachs also tried to take advantage of Venezuela’s situation in the past too, but was abruptly stopped.
“For Goldman, the ruckus may be reviving memories of the fury when word got out earlier this year that it had purchased $2.8 billion of bonds issued by Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. Those flames were fanned on Thursday when Credit Suisse Group AG barred its traders from buying and selling the so-called “hunger bonds,” as well as one note issued by the government,” writes Bloomberg. “Goldman was blasted for snapping up the deeply discounted securities, which got their nickname from the food shortages racking the crisis-torn country. The bank has said it acquired the bonds for asset-management clients via a broker and didn’t funnel money directly to the Maduro government. On Thursday Goldman said in a statement that it doesn’t support the regime “and will not do business with it.”
Author’s note: It looks like the vultures are not only circling, but are starting to land. Venezuela desperately needs cash, but since Maduro has no clue how to run a country, the cash will run out. The country will only be in much worse shape, without their oil assets. This appears to be part of Venezuela’s crash, the socialist government is having a fire sale just to try to stay afloat. But, a crash is inevitable.