Going Down...Part 2

 We’ll get started with this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment in a bit but first…Oilprice.com reports that Venezuela’s oil exports plunged 38% in August after setting a three year high a month earlier. (Kinda’ sounds like Friday’s report on the bolivar, huh?)

 Outages at two crude blending units prevented some of the extra-heavy crude (which is most of Venezuela’s oil reserves) from being converted into exportable grades, according to PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) internal documents and tanker tracking data.

 Venezuela exported 544,000 bpd (barrels per day) in August compared to 877,000 bpd in July (although experts questioned the accuracy of the July numbers).

 Once again, as with all things Chavista- related, we need to add a little perspective. Before Hugo Chavez and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism took over, Venezuela was producing between 3 million to 3 and  1/2 million bpd.

 The 544,000 bpd may be bad but it’s nowhere near the low under Maduro a few years ago of about 250,000 bpd. Missing from all this oil news is any update on the two Iranian infrastructure repair projects which were suppose to boost production and be completed a couple of months ago.

 Then we have Reuters telling us that Shell and NGC (Trinidad & Tobago National Gas Company)are close to agreeing to credit PDVSA for it’s $1 billion investment in a gas field the three want to jointly develop.

 In January the US granted the three companies authorization for two years to revive the dormant project. Negotiations have been stalled over a US demand that PDVSA receive no cash payments for the Dragon Field project and Trinidad & Tobago has asked the Biden administration to reconsider.

 Past efforts to pursue development of the project have stumbled over PDVSA’s demands for compensation. We may be closer to a deal but something’s going to have to give. (Hint : It’ll be Biden)

 Then we have Rio Times telling us that the Venezuela Navy showed new ships and missiles at a recent event to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Maracaibo and Navy Day.

 So…the Maduro regime can’t feed it’s citizens, provide healthcare (or pretty much anything else), and can’t pay it’s UN dues…but it can pay for upgrades to it’s military. FYI, Venezuela has never been engaged in a war with anyone …ever.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 9/ El Dodado…

 Chavismo has managed to destroy the healthcare system, the national oil company, the power grid and access to fresh water, the currency (twice over), food security and transportation security, and the hopes and dreams of an entire generation. In the interest of being an equal opportunity destroyer, Maduro created the “Mining Arc”, causing the rape of the environment and the simultaneous exploitation and slaughter of indigenous peoples. Since they destroyed basically everything else in the county they certainly couldn’t leave the environment and indigenous peoples alone. If you haven’t heard about this you’re not alone. It’s puzzling how an American company can let a few drops of oil hit the ground in western Nebraska or an American soldier can infringe on someone’s civil rights in some foreign country and it’s all over the news and yet Maduro can poison the rivers and kill the Pemon people and the environmentalists and human rights activists are largely silent. Please, allow me to enlighten you…

 As the economy collapsed around them many Venezuelans had to make a geographic change to survive. Millions left the country (7.3 million and counting) causing the largest migration crisis in the history of the Western Hemisphere. For thousands of people unable or unwilling to leave the country, they only knew they had to go somewhere, to do something. Similar to the American west in the 1800s, the best option seemed to be heading to the mining region(s). For those who caused the collapse of the country, the Chavistas, this also seemed like a good idea. As we have seen previously, the Maduro regime, in it’s desperate search for money to pay the military and keep them happy, explored all options…and exhausted all options. I’ve heard them compared to meth addicts who have already gone through all their money, sold everything they had of value, and then began destroying the house they lived in so they could rip the copper wiring out of the walls and get what they could for it to buy themselves a little more time. A perfect analogy.

 Southern and Eastern Venezuela, the area bordering Brazil and Guyana, on the fringes of the Amazon, is a remote, and in many cases, a spectacularly beautiful region. Colonial explorers traveled up the Orinoco river searching for the lost city of gold, El Dorado. Unlike the gold rush days of the American old west, where huge gold strikes would cause everyone from everywhere to descend on areas it seemed gold was just “lying around for the taking” (we all know this was never true), the gold in this region, while plentiful, is dispersed over a large area.

 More tomorrow….

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