Caracas residents were faced with long lines at gas stations for the second day in a row today as the city finds itself in the midst of a gasoline shortage. El Universal reports that while some of the city’s gas stations received fuel shipments overnight, others have not been resupplied in over a week and some were even forced to close this morning.
While Venezuela is one of the largest oil producers on earth, it lacks the refining capacity to turn oil into gasoline. As a result, Venezuela imports approximately 45,000 barrels of oil per day to meet internal demand. Much of the imported oil comes from refineries in the United States.
El Nacional reports that gas stations in the city’s east, south and western regions were open this morning, but tended to suffer from longer-than-usual lines of cars hoping to fill up.
Below, an picture taken this morning showing a long line at a gas station in the Los Palos Grandes area of the city:
Another image of a line. This one taken at 4:00 PM somewhere along the Victoria Avenue:
The video below shows a line of cars waiting to pump up at a gas station in La Trinidad this morning:
Union Head: Venezuela Has Less Than Two Days Worth of Gasoline In Stock
Ivan Freites, the head of Fedepetrol, the country’s largest oil union, said today that the country was dangerously close to running out of gasoline. Speaking to Reuters, Freites said:
There’s no stock. The situation is serious this time. We should have stock to last 15 days of national consumption. If we’ve got enough for two, that’d be saying a lot.
The [fluid catalytic] cracker in Amuay is the biggest one in the country. It can process 108,000 barrels per day. After the 2012 explosion it was able to process 70,000 barrels per day, and now we only process 40,000 barrels.
Venezuela has four main oil refineries, which together have the capacity to refine 1.3 million barrels of oil per day. However, years of mismanagement and neglect have taken all but one of them offline.
Freites lamented the sickly state of the Venezuelan oil industry, saying:
We have the ability to meet [demand in the] Venezuelan market and to [serve] the international market. In another time, we were one of the main suppliers to the North American and Caribbean markets.
Deputy Guerra: 15 Tankers Awaiting Payment from PDVSA
National Assembly deputy Jose Guerra placed the blame for the gasoline shortages squarely on the lap of PDVSA, the state-owned oil company. According to Guerra, there are 15 oil tankers at sea in the Caribbean on a holding pattern awaiting payment from PDVSA before docking at Venezuelan ports. Guerra explained the matter succinctly:
When we mix these three elements, we find the answer to this national drama: a fall in production, [a fall in] refining, and PDVSA’s debts.
Guerra also reminded reporters that PDVSA has a debt payment of $2.7 billion due in April, and that the company has further bond payments worth $2.6 billion due throughout 2017.
Maduro: Oil Economy is “Over”
Speaking at a an event called Expo Venezuela 2017 held in a Caracas stadium earlier today, Maduro told the crowd that the “oil economy model is over” and that Venezuela had to look for ways to earn income other than oil sales. Maduro attempted to rally support for his ideas by saying:
Together, we have to grab, distribute, invest every little dollar in order to guarantee raw materials. We have to continue to build the new system that transcends the exchange [sic].
We’re making our way through the first year, 2017, of a new model and a new historical epoch for our economy that we’re all forced to make our way through, among all of the productive forces of the country.
At the same time, Maduro placed the blame for the country’s economic and social breakdown on private business owners:
There’s a big dirty campaign [saying that] we have a communist model, that we don’t like private industry. Everyone should look in the mirror. More than 90% of the country’s productive apparatus is in the hands of private industry.
Maduro also chalked up the fact that private businesses still exist in Venezuela to a “healthy” baking system and system of government that is conducive to enterprise:
How is it that private businesses have developed? [Thanks to] credit from the healthy and strong baking system that we have in Venezuela, regulated by the laws made by the revolution, by monetary, fiscal and financial policies of the revolution that favour a powerful public banking sector that, as it does today, continues to stimulate, financing the private sector with Bolivares as well as exchangeable currency, in order to wholly develop the productive capacities of all the productive sectors of the country.
Venezuelan Troops Set Up Camp in Colombia
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced today that he had spoken to Maduro about the presence of Venezuelan soldiers in the Arauca department of Colombia, which borders Apure state. The Colombian government had confirmed earlier in the day that Venezuelan soldiers had “set up camp” on Colombian soil for unknown reasons.
President Santos said:
I have just spoken to President Maduro, and I told him that Colombia finds this situation completely unacceptable. He has assured be that he has ordered the withdrawal of these troops from Colombian territory, and we agreed to continue to dialogue via diplomatic channels until the situation returns to normal.
Santos also said that he had ordered the Colombian military in the area to continue to “preserve Colombian sovereignty“.
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