Eying Guyana

 We’ve been keeping an eye on Guyana for a while. The little country that borders Venezuela is becoming the “Kuwait” of South America in the oil and gas industry. The Jamaica Gleaner did a piece that portends Guyana to be a rising giant in the oil and gas industry, which is true. They point out that Guyana must be wary of foreign exploitation and preserve the benefits of it’s resources for it’s citizens, which is true. They cite the example of Nigeria, sitting on the world’s 5th largest oil deposits as well as other natural resources but the people of Nigeria don’t see any benefits from this natural wealth, which is true, due to corruption and poorly negotiated contracts for the development of these resources.

 Now, if the article was truly concerned with giving Guyana useful advice we come to the “guilty of omission” part of the article and it’s pretty easy to see where it’s coming from. In the early part of the article they refer to Venezuela, the Maduro regime, as “The Bolivarian Government” (and don’t sat much else about the country sitting on top of the world’s largest proven oil reserves). Any one who uses the term “Bolivarian Government” is a Chavista sympathizer. They may still harbor the misguided hope that Nicolas Maduro will restart Petro Caribe, the program started by Hugo Chavez that provided low-cost, and in some cases free, oil to Caribbean nations as well as low-cost financing and funding for projects and social programs in it’s member countries. That was back in the days when Venezuela was a serious oil producer. They should have cautioned Guyana, in addition to not doing what Nigeria did, to not do what Venezuela did. That would be to expropriate almost all foreign oil operations and assets in the country and place them in the hands of corrupt Chavistas that knew (know) little to nothing about the oil and gas business as they did with PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company).

If Jamaica and other Caribbean nations are hoping to benefit from a restart of Petro Caribe they may have a long time to wait. Here is a thumbnail sketch of the oil industry in Venezuela (if you can call it that) .

 PDVSA (the Chavistas) need about 600,000 bpd (barrels per day) to cover oil for loan deals (or in Cuba’s case oil for people deals) made by Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro as well as domestic needs. That might have been OK if they produced over 3 million bpd, as they did when Chavez  took power, or over 2 million bpd, as they did when Maduro took power, but that is not the case. Last year the Maduro regime’s average oil production was a little over 650,000 bpd (and it had been lower) so after their obligations (although they don’t really view domestic needs as a priority) they only have 50,000 bpd left to fund the government on an average month and on months where the production is high (for the Chavistas) you can add another 200,000 bpd (their maximum capacity at this point according to all reliable oil analyst’s estimates) which still isn’t much.

 The problem facing PDVSA (self-inflicted) won’t be fixed any time soon as the oil and gas industry is financially intensive, labor intensive, and time intensive, in short, it takes a lot of money, people and time to produce oil. So, as you can see, there simply is no spare oil production capacity for Petro Caribe (or the US if they’re stupid enough to make a sanctions relief deal with Maduro…Are you listening Joe?)

 The article would have been better served to offer two cautionary tales, Nigeria and Venezuela, and one positive model, like Norway. Their oil industry is run by oil industry professionals (not corrupt bureaucrats or party loyalists) and they have a sovereign wealth fund to provide for it’s citizens both while they’re working and in retirement. Just a thought…

 Then we have this from CNN. The UN Refugee Agency says the number of Syrian migrants has gone down in recent years even as the civil war grinds on. It puts the Syrian migrant total at about 6.6 million, so for the first time since the war began in Syria, over 10 years ago, Syria doesn’t hold the migration top spot. That dubious honor is now jointly held by Ukraine with about 6.8 million migrants and Venezuela with roughly the same at 6.81 million. There is, however, a notable difference in the international response to the crises.

 We previously told you humanitarian assistance for Syrian migrants outpaced that for Venezuelan migrants by about 10 to 1. Now, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine the spending on Ukrainian migrants is 5 times that of aid rendered to Venezuela migrants. While the disparity is half of the difference between money spent on Syrian migrants as opposed to Venezuelan migrants it’s still 5 times more spent on Ukrainians which reinforces a point we’ve made many times. War makes for sexier headlines and photo/video ops than starvation (although the Maduro regime is still committing 1,400 extrajudicial killings per year). In this case 5-10 times sexier.

 Then we have Caracas Chronicles telling us that two months after signing the “Los Angeles Declaration” at the Summit of the Americas, pledging to host more migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, the embattled administration of Peru’s President, Pedro Castillo, (we love little guys in big hats) approved a bill that permits deportation of undocumented migrants and migrants without Covid-19 vaccination.

 Castillo has faced three impeachment attempts and is the subject of 6 criminal investigations and it appears he’s looking to boost his low approval rating with this bill primarily aimed at Venezuelans, of which there are over one million in Peru. The scapegoating of Venezuelan migrants constitutes a break from the regional accord of tolerance and regularization (legalization) for migrants, particularly Venezuelans.

 Joint research by Caracas Chronicles and Xenophobia Barometer showed a spike in messages on social media with discriminatory speech toward Venezuelans. Typically anti-migrant and messages with racial slurs rise in response to political leader’s speeches and statements. Anti-Venezuelan posts are up 33% after the new law was announced. There has also been an uptick in anti-immigrant sentiment in Ecuador and Colombia.

 It seems that new barriers to migration are constantly being placed in front of Venezuelans trying to escape the regime of Nicolas Maduro and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism and yet the migration continues, now at 6.81 million and counting. Think how bad things really must be in Venezuela if 6.81 million of them are so desperate to escape, these days primarily on foot with only what they can carry and very little money. Remember this the next time the Democratic Socialists of America (are you listening AOC?) try to convince you that Nicolas Maduro is a good man that cares for his people and that things really aren’t “that bad” in Venezuela.

 Then we have Merco Press reporting that Venezuela’s CNE (electoral council) has received a petition from LGBTQ+ community party, “United For Dignity” to be recorded. Now we’ll see how well they’re received by the new “woke Nicolas” who has made many homophobic statements in the past.

 More tomorrow….

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