Pubblicato in: Commercio, Problemia Energetici

Russia, Cina e Stati Uniti. Venezuela. I venezuelani sono comparse.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2017-08-15.

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Il Venezuela è retto al momento da una dittatura. Come tutte le tirannidi, l’egemone si è circondato di persone fedeli e devote, che traggono consistenti benefici dall’essergli succubi in ogni desiderio, persone che lui ricompensa sia con denaro, sia con posti di potere, sia conferendo loro la totale immunità dei loro atti.

Quasi invariabilmente ci si sofferma sulla dittatura in atto trascurando l’analisi e la ricerca delle responsabilità del pregresso. Costantemente la storia evidenzia come le dittature attecchiscano quasi sempre in contesti caotici, spesso dopo periodi di torbidi con governi deboli e senza valido supporto.

In talune situazioni diventano il male minore. Si pensi solo alla dittatura di Napoleone.

Male minore attuale, ma quasi sempre male ben peggiore con l’andare del tempo.

Tratto caratteristico di ogni dittatura è la demonizzazione del passato, quasi che ciò potesse costituire giustificazione del presente. Manovra anche molto utilitaristica, perché ogni possibile oppositore sarebbe etichettato come “controrivoluzionario“. Nei fatti, la demonizzazione del passato è segno evidente di un regime dittatoriale.

Se all’attenzione del pubblico mondiale emergono le figure di spicco, la dittatura trova base consistente in un nugolo di microscopici personaggi senza storia che spadroneggiano impuniti ed impunibili sulla gente. Un caso per tutti: il fiduciario del governo dello stabile abitativo. È quello che può concedere o meno l’appartamento, l’uso di acqua, gas e corrente elettrica, distribuisce le tessere annonarie a piacer suo: una sorta di kapò la cui prima preoccupazione è quella di formarsi e mantenere in efficienza un harem privato e farsi un gruzzolo in valuta.

Mentre all’estero si percepiscono solo fatti eclamptici, quanti vivano sotto il regime dittatoriale conoscono per carne provata questo aspetto del potere. Spesso al punto da illudersi che il dittatore non ne sappia nulla.

Mr Maduro è un dittatore: attribuirgli una etichetta oppure un credo politico sarebbe solo un’operazione estetica, di mera cosmesi.

Innegabilmente, la schiera dei suoi supporter vive bene ed è trattata altrettanto bene: in questa enclave il dittatore è popolare e benvoluto.

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L’immagine e la percezione di una dittatura all’estero è solo funzione di quanti amici e nemici essa ha fuori dal territorio che governa. Per esempio, la vecchia Unione Sovietica aveva schiere di partiti comunisti locali che la inneggiavano anche contro ogni evidenza. All’epoca, la stampa di ambedue le parti era consistentemente faziosa.

Ad oggi, leggendo i media occidentali, Maduro è identificato con satana in persona. Fuori dall’Occidente però media ed organi di comunicazione di massa sono decisamente più cauti.

Si assiste anche ad una serie di posizioni che definire ipocrite sarebbe financo poco: governi, nazioni, società e privati che a gran voce bollano la dittatura di Maduro e poi, sottobanco, commerciano allegramente con il Venezuela.

Il clou dell’ipocrisia è raggiunto dal debito estero venezuelano, nelle mani di investitori occidentali per la sua quasi interezza. Il fatto è che il Venezuela ha sempre onorato cedole e titoli in modo esemplare: è perfettamente conscio che in questo campo non può permettersi giochi strani.

«Venezuela-Bonds – Große Chance oder Totalausfall?» [Ariva]

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«Collateral swap

Rosneft is also negotiating to swap its collateral in Citgo — a Venezuelan-owned, U.S.-based refiner — for more Venezuelan oilfield stakes and a fuel supply contract. The proposed deal, now in negotiations, aims to avoid complications from U.S. economic sanctions already in place against Russia and recently threatened against Venezuela.

What is Citgo?

Citgo is a subsidiary of PDVSA and its largest foreign asset. The refiner owns three refineries in Texas, Louisiana and Illinois, a pipeline and a retail fuel distribution network in the United States. Citgo has been solely owned by PDVSA since 1990.

How did Rosneft secure the collateral?

Venezuela pledged 49.9 percent of its shares in Citgo as collateral for a $1.5 billion loan from Rosneft last November.

What will Rosneft get in return?

PDVSA is offering the Russian oil giant ownership interests in two oil-and-gas projects and a lucrative fuel supply contract. The two projects, Mariscal Sucre in the Caribbean Sea and Tilaba in Lake Maracaibo, include three oilfields and two natural gas fields. Rosneft would also take increased management control over all the joint oil projects between the two state-owned firms.»

* * * * * * *

«As Caracas struggles to contain an economic meltdown and violent street protests, Moscow is using its position as Venezuela’s lender of last resort to gain more control over the OPEC nation’s crude reserves, the largest in the world»

*

«Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), has been secretly negotiating since at least early this year with Russia’s biggest state-owned oil company, Rosneft, offering ownership interests in up to nine of Venezuela’s most productive petroleum projects, according to a top Venezuelan government official and two industry sources familiar with the talks»

*

«Moscow has substantial leverage in the negotiations: Cash from Russia and Rosneft has been crucial in helping the financially strapped government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro avoid a sovereign debt default or a political coup»

*

«Rosneft delivered Venezuela’s state-owned firm more than $1 billion in April alone in exchange for a promise of oil shipments later»

*

«On at least two occasions, the Venezuelan government has used Russian cash to avoid imminent defaults on payments to bondholders»

*

«Russia’s growing control over Venezuelan crude gives it a stronger foothold in energy markets across the Americas. Rosneft now resells about 225,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Venezuelan oil – about 13 percent of the nation’s total exports, according to the PDVSA trade reports. That’s about enough to satisfy the daily demand of a country the size of Peru.»

*

«Maduro’s administration has grown increasingly dependent on Moscow in the past two years as China has curtailed credit to Venezuela because of payment delays and the corruption and crime faced by Chinese firms operating there»

*

«Rosneft currently owns substantial portions of five major Venezuelan oil projects. The additional projects PDVSA is now offering the Russian firm include five in the Orinoco – Venezuela’s largest oil producing region – along with three in Maracaibo Lake, its second-largest and oldest producing area, and a shallow-water oil project in the Paria Gulf»

*

«last month, Rosneft would swap its collateral on 49.9 percent of Citgo [PDVSAC.UL] – the Venezuelan owned, U.S.-based refiner – for stakes in three additional PDVSA oil fields, two natural gas fields and a lucrative fuel supply contract»

*

«Rosneft secured the collateral late last year on a loan of $1.5 billion to PDVSA»

* * * * * * *

Il giornalista di Reuters conclude secondo copione:

«russian oil deals undermine democracy»

Ma questa è la versione liberal democratica, tutta americana old fashion.

Guardate un po’ qua cosa riporta il The New York Times:

Goldman Buys $2.8 Billion Worth of Venezuelan Bonds, and an Uproar Begins

«Yet bonds issued by Venezuela’s national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, or Pdvsa, have attracted some of world’s most sophisticated investors. They are betting that the government will use its dwindling supply of dollars to pay bondholders instead of importing food and medicine for its people.»

*

«Goldman Sachs has defended the deal, saying that many other investors, including mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, own the bonds and that its asset management division bought the securities on the secondary market, without interacting with the Venezuelan government»

*

«Citgo is a subsidiary of PDVSA and its largest foreign asset. The refiner owns three refineries in Texas, Louisiana and Illinois, a pipeline and a retail fuel distribution network in the United States. Citgo has been solely owned by PDVSA since 1990»

*

Concludiamo.

Se è ovvio che tutti esercitino la Realpolitik, nessuno si scandalizza della propaganda. Ci si scandalizza quando si lasciano pescare con le mani nella marmellata. Il giornalista di Reuters non può trattarci come babbei.


Reuters. 2017-08-13. Special Report: Vladimir’s Venezuela – Leveraging loans to Caracas, Moscow snaps up oil assets

CARACAS/HOUSTON (Reuters) – Venezuela’s unraveling socialist government is increasingly turning to ally Russia for the cash and credit it needs to survive – and offering prized state-owned oil assets in return, sources familiar with the negotiations told Reuters.

As Caracas struggles to contain an economic meltdown and violent street protests, Moscow is using its position as Venezuela’s lender of last resort to gain more control over the OPEC nation’s crude reserves, the largest in the world.

Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), has been secretly negotiating since at least early this year with Russia’s biggest state-owned oil company, Rosneft (ROSN.MM) – offering ownership interests in up to nine of Venezuela’s most productive petroleum projects, according to a top Venezuelan government official and two industry sources familiar with the talks.

Moscow has substantial leverage in the negotiations: Cash from Russia and Rosneft has been crucial in helping the financially strapped government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro avoid a sovereign debt default or a political coup.

Rosneft delivered Venezuela’s state-owned firm more than $1 billion in April alone in exchange for a promise of oil shipments later. On at least two occasions, the Venezuelan government has used Russian cash to avoid imminent defaults on payments to bondholders, a high-level PDVSA official told Reuters.

Rosneft has also positioned itself as a middleman in sales of Venezuelan oil to customers worldwide. Much of it ends up at refineries in the United States – despite U.S. sanctions against Russia – because it is sold through intermediaries such as oil trading firms, according to internal PDVSA trade reports seen by Reuters and a source at the firm.

PDVSA and the government of Venezuela did not respond to requests for comment.

The Russian government declined to comment and referred questions to the foreign ministry and the ministries of finance and defense, which did not respond to questions from Reuters. Rosneft declined to comment.

Russia’s growing control over Venezuelan crude gives it a stronger foothold in energy markets across the Americas. Rosneft now resells about 225,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Venezuelan oil – about 13 percent of the nation’s total exports, according to the PDVSA trade reports. That’s about enough to satisfy the daily demand of a country the size of Peru.

Venezuela gives Rosneft most of that oil as payment for billions of dollars in cash loans that Maduro’s government has already spent. His administration needs Russia’s money to finance everything from bond payments to imports of food and medicine amid severe national shortages.

For a graphic detailing the decline of Venezuela’s oil industry, see: tmsnrt.rs/2fwsuCV

Venezuela’s opposition lawmakers say Russia is behaving more like a predator than an ally.

“Rosneft is definitely taking advantage of the situation,” said Elias Matta, vice president of the energy commission at Venezuela’s elected National Assembly. “They know this is a weak government; that it’s desperate for cash – and they’re sharks.”

Matta echoed many others in the opposition-majority congress who have blasted corporate deals they say are underpinning Maduro’s efforts to establish a dictatorship.

The Venezuelan government has said previously that Russia’s investment in its oil industry shows confidence in PDVSA’s financial stability and the nation’s business opportunities.

Maduro’s administration has grown increasingly dependent on Moscow in the past two years as China has curtailed credit to Venezuela because of payment delays and the corruption and crime faced by Chinese firms operating there, according to Venezuelan debt analysts and two oil industry sources.

Many multinational firms worldwide, meanwhile, have all but written off their Venezuelan operations amid the nation’s tanking economy and chronic shortages of raw materials.

Rosneft is making the opposite play – using Venezuela’s hard times as a buying opportunity for oil assets with potentially high long-term value.

“The Russians are catching Venezuela at rock bottom,” said one Western diplomat who has worked on issues involving Venezuela’s oil industry in recent years.

As other companies shutter operations here, Rosneft has expanded to an additional floor of its office tower and added staff. The Russian firm has poached PDVSA professionals and brought in more Russian executives, two sources close to Rosneft told Reuters.

The corporate expansion provides a striking contrast to the scene on the streets below these days, in the once-thriving business district of Caracas.

As Rosneft staffers work in swanky offices alongside posters of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a bust of Hugo Chavez – the late Venezuelan leader and socialist icon – crowds of young men outside often throw rocks and Molotov cocktails in escalating protests of Chavez’ successor.

Rosneft currently owns substantial portions of five major Venezuelan oil projects. The additional projects PDVSA is now offering the Russian firm include five in the Orinoco – Venezuela’s largest oil producing region – along with three in Maracaibo Lake, its second-largest and oldest producing area, and a shallow-water oil project in the Paria Gulf, the two industry sources told Reuters.

In a separate proposal first reported by Reuters last month, Rosneft would swap its collateral on 49.9 percent of Citgo [PDVSAC.UL] – the Venezuelan owned, U.S.-based refiner – for stakes in three additional PDVSA oil fields, two natural gas fields and a lucrative fuel supply contract, according to two sources with knowledge of the negotiations.

Under the proposal, Rosneft would also take increased management control over all the joint oil projects between the two firms.

Rosneft secured the collateral late last year on a loan of $1.5 billion to PDVSA.

The negotiations over a collateral swap are driven in part by a recent threat from U.S. President Donald Trump to sanction Venezuela’s oil sector as punishment for Maduro’s efforts to undermine the nation’s elected congress.

Rosneft has already been sanctioned by the United States over Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Such actions require U.S. firms to end business relations with sanctioned entities.

RUSSIAN OIL DEALS UNDERMINE DEMOCRACY

Maduro’s need for Russian cash played a key role in a move by his political allies earlier this year that destabilized Venezuela’s already teetering democracy, the top Venezuelan government official told Reuters.

In March, the nation’s Supreme Court – whose members are loyal to Maduro – took over the powers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. A majority of elected Assembly members opposed any new oil deals with Russia and insisted on retaining power to veto them.

Days later – after fierce national protests against the action – the court returned most powers to the national legislature at Maduro’s public urging. But the court allowed the president to keep the legal authority to cut fresh oil deals with Russia without legislative approval.

The episode was pivotal in escalating daily street protests and clashes with authorities that have since caused more than 120 deaths.

Maduro needed sole authority to cut new oil deals to clear the way for Rosneft’s expansion, the top Venezuelan government official told Reuters.

“Pressure from Russia has played an important role in Nicolas Maduro’s decisions,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public comments.

Rosneft said this month that it has lent a total of $6 billion to PDVSA. In total, Russia and Rosneft have delivered Venezuela at least $17 billion in loans and credit lines since 2006, according to Reuters calculations based on loans and credit lines announced by the government.

Venezuela does not publish the full details of the debts it owes Russia.

Maduro has sought to limit the power of congress since the opposition won a majority in 2015.

In late July, he created a legislative superbody called the Constituent Assembly in an election that was widely criticized as a sham. Allies of the Socialist Party won all 545 seats in the new assembly, which has the power to rewrite the nation’s constitution, dissolve state institutions – such as the opposition-run Congress – and fire dissident state officials.

SPIRAL OF DEBT, DEPENDENCE

Venezuela’s oil-based economy has collapsed since international prices crashed to a low of $24 per barrel in early 2016 from more than $100 in 2014. Prices now hover at about $50, which hasn’t proven high enough to pull Venezuela out of its tailspin.

Nearly all of the nation’s export revenue comes from oil, so income has fallen sharply and a shortage of petrodollars has left Maduro’s government unable to finance the generous subsidies of food, medicines, fuels, power and other public services instituted by his predecessor, Chavez.

The erosion of subsidies has contributed to rapid inflation, which is forecasted to top 700 percent this year by the International Monetary Fund. Venezuela’s currency, the bolivar, has become nearly worthless.

Government spending cuts have also slashed budgets for maintaining the nation’s oilfields, refineries, ports and tankers, causing Venezuela’s oil output in the first half of 2017 to fall to nearly its lowest level in 27 years.

PDVSA is repaying a growing portion of its mounting debts to Russia with oil, according to internal PDVSA trade data reviewed by Reuters. The oil payments are choking off the cash flow from its petroleum business – thereby creating the need for more loans.

CIRCLING OIL ASSETS

The nation’s downward spiral has put Rosneft in a position to acquire Venezuelan oil assets on the cheap.

Of the package of stakes PDVSA has offered to Rosneft, the most valuable is a 10 percent stake in Petropiar, a multi-billion dollar project to produce and upgrade extra heavy crude in the Orinoco Belt.

The value of the stake is likely between $600 million and $800 million, based on the valuations of similar deals.

The rising volumes of Venezuelan crude that Rosneft receives have made the Russian firm a middleman in sales to refiners that once bought directly from PDVSA. The oil payments have also helped Rosneft grow a major oil trading business to complement its massive production apparatus.

In the process, the Russian firm has appropriated some of PDVSA’s hard-won international supply deals and valuable trading relationships with refiners as far afield as China, the PDVSA documents show.

At today’s prices, the Venezuelan oil exports that flow to Rosneft would be worth about $3.6 billion annually. And the flow of PDVSA crude to Rosneft is expected to keep increasing, according to the internal PDVSA documents.

Most of it is sold into the United States, according to the documents.

Rosneft also will soon start selling Venezuelan crude to India’s refiner Essar, taking PDVSA’s second largest customer in the Asian country.

“Russia is taking everything they have,” said an oil trader who regularly deals with PDVSA.

A DICEY INVESTMENT

The Russian strategy has its risks. Many of the world’s top energy firms took a hit when Chavez nationalized their assets, and an opposition-led government could later reverse or revise any deals Maduro cuts without their blessing.

Venezuela’s bond yields are among the highest in the world because of the nation’s high default risk. The bonds pay nearly 30 percentage points more than benchmark U.S. treasuries.

PDVSA’s many connections to the United States oil industry also raise the specter that the deals now under negotiation could run afoul of U.S. economic sanctions already in place against Russia and threatened against Venezuela.

The Petropiar project, for instance, is 30 percent owned by U.S. oil major Chevron Corp (CVX.N).

Should Rosneft take a stake in the project, it could be complicated for Chevron to ensure it is not violating U.S. sanctions. In the meantime, Chevron has sent guidelines to executives to ensure they comply with sanctions, an employee at Chevron told Reuters.

The guidelines advise staff, for instance, to avoid one-on-one meetings with sanctioned entities or officials, the employee said. In a statement, Chevron said it abides by “a stringent code of business ethics” and complies with applicable laws.

For now, Russia’s status as chief lender to PDVSA has put Rosneft in a position to supercharge its holdings and profits in the region.

If Venezuela’s government defaults on its debt payments – an increasingly likely scenario – Rosneft likely will be one of the entities at the front of the queue as a creditor because of its large collateral stake in U.S.-based Citgo, according to a confidential independent analysis of its debt commissioned by an investment fund and seen by Reuters.

Representatives of Citgo, PDVSA’S largest foreign asset, did not respond to requests for comment.

GUNS FOR OIL

Rosneft’s involvement in Venezuela can be traced back to a $4 billion arms-for-oil deal in 2006 that cemented the bond between the governments of Chavez and Putin. Chavez, a former military officer, signed the deal himself in Moscow.

Shunned by the United States – which since 2006 has refused to supply spare parts for Venezuela’s fleet of U.S.-built F-16 fighter jets – Chavez bought Russian Sukhoi fighter jets, helicopters, tanks and guns from Putin.

Top executives from Rosneft and PDVSA were later involved in negotiations related to the military purchases because Rosneft was the Russian entity receiving the Venezuelan oil cargoes used to pay for a portion of the weapons, the top Venezuelan government official told Reuters.

They included Rosneft President Igor Sechin, a powerful long-time advisor and deputy to Putin. Sechin is a trained linguist who began his career as a military interpreter and has a passion for the history of Latin America’s revolutionaries, according to two people who worked with him.

He had a direct line into Chavez until the former president’s death in 2013, the Venezuelan official told Reuters. Sechin has maintained close ties with Maduro and the two meet regularly, the official said.

Speaking to reporters in at a hydroelectric plant in Russia last week, Sechin called Rosneft’s growing investments in Venezuela an obvious and essential play.

“This is a country with the world’s hydrocarbon reserves,” he said, referring to a central component of oil and natural gas. “Any energy company should aim to work in this country … No one could force us from there.”

Russia was swift to defend Maduro’s government from international criticism after the Supreme Court moved to nullify congress, with Moscow issuing a statement saying foreign governments should not meddle in Venezuelan domestic politics.

Sechin was Maduro’s guest of honor at a ceremony last October to unveil a Russian-made granite statue of Chavez erected in the late president’s hometown of Sabaneta.

In the sweltering heat, a Russian choir dressed in black sang the Venezuelan anthem in heavily accented Spanish before Sechin addressed the crowds of mostly red-shirted Socialist Party supporters.

“Thank you for trusting us,” Sechin told the crowd in Spanish during the speech, broadcast on Venezuelan state television. “Russia and Venezuela, together forever!”

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