PDVSA President: Venezuelan oil could reach US$60 per barrel after crude production cuts

Eulogio del Pino, President of state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), said on 10 December 2016 that due to global crude oil production cuts, the price of Venezuelan oil could reach from US$50 to US$60 per barrel within six to nine months (La Patilla). Del Pino made the statement following the 10 December meeting of non-OPEC members in Vienna, at which eleven oil-producing nations agreed to cut their crude production by 558,000 barrels per day to stabilize global oil prices (Globovisión). The majority of OPEC members agreed to cut production of crude oil by 1.2 million barrels per day on 30 November, and the cuts from OPEC members and non-members are set to begin on 1 January 2017. Del Pino also noted Venezuela, along with Russia, Azerbaijan, Oman, and Kuwait, will form part of a monitoring committee to supervise the implementation of the agreement (El Nacional).

Shell to invest US$400 million in PDVSA Lake Maracaibo joint venture

State oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) President Eulogio del Pino announced on 6 December 2016 that Royal Dutch Shell would invest US$400 million to increase crude production at a joint venture with PDVSA in Lake Maracaibo. The Corporación Venezolana del Petróleo, a subsidiary of PDVSA, controls 60 percent of joint venture Petroregional del Lago S.A. and Shell owns the remaining 40 percent (La Patilla). According to Del Pino, Shell's investment will allow production at the joint venture to increase by 344 million barrels of crude between 2017 and 2035, or by 52,400 barrels per day on average. In a statement, PDVSA noted the total investment required for the project is US$2.8 billion (Panorama). 

Venezuela to reduce crude production by 95,000 barrels per day

President of state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) Eulogio del Pino announced on 30 November 2016 that Venezuela will reduce its crude oil production by 95,000 barrels per day (bpd). The cuts will place the country's daily production below 2 million bpd for the first time in 30 years (Efecto Cocuyo). Venezuela's production cuts are part of a 30 November agreement by the Organization of the Petroleum of Exporting Countries (OPEC) to reduce the majority of member states' crude production by an average of 4.7 percent, limiting their output by 1.2 million bpd beginning on 1 January 2017 (Tal Cual).

Maduro announces restructuring at PDVSA

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced an absolute restructuring and a change of direction for state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) on 23 November 2016. During a radio and television address, Maduro said the Executive would combat corruption and bureaucracy at PDVSA and increase domestic oil production (Tal Cual). Maduro also stated the working classes would lead PDVSA and denounced infiltrators in the Venezuelan oil industry. According to Maduro, saboteurs shut down three refineries on 1 September, when the opposition held a large-scale protest in Caracas (Efecto Cocuyo). 

State oil companies PDVSA and Rosneft meet in Caracas

Representatives from the state oil companies of Venezuela, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), and of Russia, Rosneft, met in Caracas on 20 November 2016 to strengthen their cooperation agenda and develop their joint ventures. Rosneft has a minority stake in five joint ventures with PDVSA that involve crude oil located in the Orinoco Oil Belt and the western coast of Lake Maracaibo, including Petro Miranda, Petro Victoria, Petro Perijá, Petro Monagas, and Boquerón (Panorama). Following the meeting, the Venezuelan government stated in a communiqué the companies analyzed petrochemical projects in Venezuela and explored new areas for cooperation in the trade and delivery of crude and other products, without offering specific details (La Patilla). Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro stated that PDVSA is seeking to increase oil production with Russia, while simultaneously calling on all oil exporting nations to reduce their production levels to stabilize the global price of oil (El Nacional).

Venezuela and China sign US$2.2 billion energy deals

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro met with a delegation from the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in Caracas on 17 November 2016 to sign energy deals worth US$2.2 billion. The agreements cover investments in joint ventures with Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) where CNPC has a minority holding, such as a deal to increase production by around 277,000 barrels per day in the Orinoco Oil Belt (América Economía). CNPC and PDVSA also agreed to construct an oil refinery in Jienyang, China, that will process over 400,000 barrels of oil per day (Globovisión). According to Maduro, the projects to increase oil production are backed by a Chinese credit line of up to US$9 billion (América Economía).

Legislature blames Ramírez for US$11 billion embezzlement at PDVSA

Venezuela's Asamblea Nacional (AN) on 16 November 2016 declared Rafael Ramírez was responsible for embezzling US$11 billion during his tenure as President of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) from 2004 to 2014. During a session attended only by the 109 deputies from the opposition, the AN unanimously voted that Ramírez, as well as Javier Ochoa, the head of PDVSA subsidiary Bariven, were politically responsible for ten corruption cases involving PDVSA (El Universal). Freddy Guevara, President of the AN Comptroller Committee, called on President Nicolás Maduro to remove Ramírez from his current post as Venezuela's Ambassador to the United Nations (La Patilla). Ramírez stated via Twitter that he would defend his honor and reputation by taking legal action against the AN (El Nacional).

Crystallex sues PDVSA in US court over bond swap

Canadian mining company Crystallex sued state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) at a federal court in Delaware on 31 October 2016 over the alleged fraudulent use of Citgo shares in a PDVSA debt swap (Panorama, 2 November). On 24 October, PDVSA issued a partial debt swap of its 2017 bonds for new 2020 bonds, backed by a 50.1 percent of shares in PDVSA's U.S. subsidiary Citgo. Both Crystallex and U.S. oil company ConocoPhillips, which filed a similar lawsuit on 6 October, allege the Venezuelan Government is attempting to block payments to the companies by using Citgo shares as collateral (La Patilla). In April 2016, a World Bank tribunal ordered the Venezuelan Government to pay Crystallex US$1.4 billion for a mining expropriation, and ConocoPhillips is expecting the same tribunal to rule on an expropriation by the Venezuelan government (Panorama).

PDVSA signs US$1.45 billion oil deals with Indian and local firms

State oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) signed US$1.45 billion in oil deals with Indian and Venezuelan firms on 4 November 2016. PDVSA finalized a deal with Indian state oil company ONGC Videsh Limited to invest US$318 million in the Indovenezolana joint venture in the Orinoco Oil Belt to double crude production from 20,000 to 40,000 barrels per day (Tal Cual). The second deal, worth US$1.13 billion, was signed with Venezuelan firm Delta Finance BV to increase production from 420,000 to 855,000 barrels of crude per day at the joint venture PetroDelta (Efecto Cocuyo). At the signing, PDVSA President Eulogio del Pino stated Venezuela has committed US$10.7 billion in financing for its energy-related joint ventures over the past two years (Panorama).

Venezuela's foreign reserves hit twenty-year low following PDVSA payments

According to the latest data from the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV), Venezuela's foreign reserves fell to US$10.898 billion, hitting a twenty-year low (Panorama, 28 October 2016). Venezuela's foreign reserves fell to their lowest level since June 1996, when the reserves reached US$10.708 billion (La Patilla). The decline followed a debt payment of approximately US$1 billion from state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to bondholders after a bond matured on 28 October, causing Venezuela's foreign reserves to lose US$909 million in a single day (Panorama). The South American country's foreign reserves have lost US$5.423 billion since January 2016.

PDVSA swaps 39.4 percent of 2017 bonds

Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) announced on 24 October 2016 that it swapped US$2.798 billion in bonds set to expire in 2017 for US$3.367 billion in bonds maturing in 2020, backed by a 50.1 percent stake in PDVSA's U.S. subsidiary Citgo. Although PDVSA originally sought to swap at least half of US$7.1 billion in 2017 bonds, the oil company settled for swapping 39.4 percent of the notes on offer (La Patilla). The debt swap, which takes effect on 27 October, alleviates PDVSA from payments of approximately US$1.8 billion between November 2016 and November 2017 (Panorama).

Venezuelan legislature: PDVSA embezzled US$11 billion

An investigation by the Comptroller Committee in Venezuela's Asamblea Nacional (AN) released on 19 October 2016 found that during the administration of former Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) President Rafael Ramírez between 2004 and 2014, US$11 billion were embezzled from the state oil company. The 105-page report states funds for pensions, equipment maintenance, and various financial transactions were misappropriated, and links the suspected corruption to current PDVSA President Eulogio del Pino, who was on PDVSA's Board of Directors in 2008 (Efecto Cocuyo). According to Comptroller Committee President Freddy Guevara, the investigation into the largest corruption case in Venezuela's history drew mainly on internal documents from PDVSA, documents from PDVSA's auditing firm KPMG, criminal investigations from other countries, and documents from the AN archives (Tal Cual). Ramírez is currently serving as Venezuela's ambassador to the United Nations.