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Petróleos de Venezuela – Caracas' state oil company in the maelstrom of the crisis News

Sunday, August 13th, 2017 | Economy

Venezuela's controversial President Nicolas Maduro is almost as dependent on the oil richness of his country. The protests against his government are continuing, international pressure is coming under increasing pressure, and there is no end to the economic downturn.
However, the ever-increasing attempts to transform the state oil giant PDVSA into an even greater power bastion threaten to make a stumbling enterprise out of the former flagship company of the socialist-led country. And this, even though Venezuela sits on the largest crude oil reserves in the world. "Everything is a disaster, and yet we have to applaud," says a PDVSA employee. For fear of reprisals she wants to remain anonymous.
Critics have long criticized the fact that PDVSA (Petroleos de Venezuela SA) is made a corruption-infested heart of what the deceased head of state Hugo Chavez once called "socialism of the 21st century". At the expense of the former flourishing oil industry. Interviews with two dozen employees, ex-employees and foreign oil managers suggest that PDVSA is out of line.
For example, supervisors should have threatened that they would be fired if they did not participate in pro-government demonstrations. Employees were also apparently told that they would have to vote in the election of the constitutional assembly at the end of July for the project, which, according to Maduros, paved the way for a dictatorship.
Power struggle in the company
Already in January, a new management team was set up consisting of representatives of the political and military sectors. At the top, as the company's president, the engineer Eulogio Del Pino, who was trained at the US elite university Stanford, remained formally. But behind the scenes, a power struggle is raging, the Del Pino informant has largely pushed aside. Instead, oil minister Nelson Martinez, a Maduro confidant, is increasingly negotiating the grand treaties. And it is also Martinez, who increasingly represents Venezuela on oil congresses.
In the ranks behind it many managers, who are regarded as inexperienced. This is especially noticeable by the foreign oil manager. Calls or e-mails are usually not answered, says one of them. "It's amazing how young and unprepared some managers are." The chaos is also getting worse in the course of business operations. Tanker could now take 30 to 40 days. A few years ago it had been two or three days. Oil production in 2017 is at its lowest level in 25 years.
If the US threatens to impose sanctions against Venezuela's oil sector, PDVSA will probably find it difficult to react to this, says the industry expert Francisco Monaldi from the Baker Institute in Houston. A lack of managerial expertise and the crumbling hierarchy within the group would "make things very difficult".

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