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Venezuela: More Middlemen Trading Petroleum Products by Internet

By José Suárez-Núñez | El Nacional

Caracas, 16 May 2005 | The new firms, ADL Group and Fusion, identify the Venezuelan ports of Guaraguao (Anzoátegui) and Puerto Miranda (Zulia) as loading terminals. They guarantee delivery of number 2 diesel fuel to European ports.

Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) has the ability to discover who —from within the corporation, with contacts in Marketing and Shipping and with experience in doing bureaucratic paperwork— is negotiating those petroleum shipments in the name of the Republic.

PDVSA ought to conduct a thorough investigation into this irregularity in order to free itself of the discredit it has earned within the business community that the state oil corporation has been publicly granting discounts on the spot market. Traditional customers with long-term contracts might want to demand discounts.

The formalities necessary for a tanker to take on a load at one of the Venezuelan ports require rigorous processes for obtaining authorizations from the refineries and loading terminals. Getting through silently requires internal complicity.

In addition to the firms, Eblue and Petro Associates, two other firms, ADL Group and Fusion, offer a new assortment of crudes and products. On the website the trader ADL Group promises 2 million barrels of MaraLago API 22 crude, at the month's spot price, on 1,000 day contracts, with good discounts.

Likewise, it states that is has available 52 million gallons of number 2 diesel fuel and sets the spot price at $1.08 per gallon.

The firm Fusion offers 1 million barrels of Venezuelan API 22 crude for loading FOB at Puerto Miranda (the loading dock is within Lake Maracaibo) and advises that contracts can be renewed every 6 months.

It also assures that is has available 6 million gallons of number 2 diesel, with contracts renewable every 6 months, for loading FOB at the Guaraguao terminal (Puerto La Cruz, Anzoátegui).

Apparently they seem to have everything, because they continue to offer 3 million barrels of Mesa API 30 crude for delivery in 12 months and they accept other contract options, always priced FOB. A significant detail is the offer of number 2 diesel fuel for the delivery of 1 million barrels per month, destined for a European port.

“There can be no other way—said an expert from CONSUM—because a shipment cannot be hidden away in warehouses on the Caribbean islands and other ports, without corresponding notifications and it is of immediate public knowledge to traders and brokers.

It is not easy to take out a load without there being some sort of internal complicity. When the petroleum meritocracy, days before President Chávez left Miraflores Palace, forbade the loading of Cuban tankers without previous payment of invoices, they were unable to leave. “It was necessary, upon Chávez’s return to power, to have the Minister of Energy and Mines order a determined official to authorize the ships’ departures.”

“It is hypothetical to think that a general or a minister may show up at the docks and order a ship to be loaded. It is physically impossible to do that.”

What happens is that there have been four or five reorganizations in the Trading and Shipping department and those who were temporarily in charge brought with them experienced aides who know the business and some may have stayed behind, because the commission for one or two contracts is enough for a retirement.

At the website, other traders and brokers offer crude from Russia, Nigeria, and other OPEC countries, but the important thing for PDVSA is to know who, in the name of the corporation, is selling petroleum.

Translation by W.K.

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