|Industry||Oil and gas|
|Headquarters||Maracaibo, Venezuela (International)|
Moscow, Russian Federation (Europe)
|Maj. Gen. Manuel Quevedo, President|
|Products||Fuel, natural gas and other petrochemicals|
|Revenue||$48.0 billion (2016)|
|$828 million (2016)|
|Total assets||$189.7 billion (2016)|
|Owner||Government of Venezuela|
Number of employees
Electricidad de Caracas, C.A. (93.62%)
Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA, Spanish pronunciation: [peðeˈβesa]) (English: Petroleum of Venezuela) is the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company. It has activities in exploration, production, refining and exporting oil as well as exploration and production of natural gas. Since its founding on 1 January 1976 with the nationalization of the Venezuelan oil industry, PDVSA has dominated the oil industry of Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil exporter.
Oil reserves in Venezuela are the largest in the world and the state-owned PDVSA provides the government of Venezuela with substantial funding resources. Following the Bolivarian Revolution, PDVSA was mainly used as a political tool of the government. Profits were also used to assist the presidency, with funds directed towards allies of the Venezuelan government.
With PDVSA focusing on political projects instead of oil production, mechanical and technical statuses deteriorated while employee expertise was removed following thousands of politically-motivated firings. Incompetence within the company has led to serious inefficiencies and accidents as well as endemic corruption. As a result, thousands of workers have abandoned their work for PDVSA, especially after PDVSA was put under military control.
Venezuela has 77.5 billion barrels (1.232×1010 m3) of conventional oil reserves according to PDVSA figures, the largest in the Western Hemisphere and making up approximately half the total. This puts Venezuela as fifth in the world in proven reserves of conventional oil. By also including an estimated 235 billion barrels (3.74×1010 m3) of tar-like extra heavy crude oil in the Orinoco Belt region, Venezuela claims to hold the largest hydrocarbon reserves in the world. Venezuela also has 150 trillion cubic feet (4.2×1012 m3) of natural gas reserves. The crude oil PDVSA extracts from the Orinoco is refined into a fuel eponymously named ‘Orimulsion’.
PDVSA has a production capacity, including the strategic associations and operating agreements, of 4 million barrels (640,000 m3) per day (600,000 m³). Officials say production is around 3.3 million barrels per day (520,000 m3/d) although most secondary sources such as OPEC and the EIA put Venezuela's output at least 500,000 barrels per day (79,000 m3/d) lower.
The organization's payroll tripled during the presidency of Hugo Chavez. Oil production fell steeply, a drop of 700,000 barrels per day. Soaring oil prices began in 2002 and peaked in 2008 at $147 per barrel.
In 2002, many of the employees of PDVSA went on strike against the policies of Chávez, who in response fired over 19,000 workers from the company. Intevep, the research and development arm of PDVSA, reportedly lost 80% of its workers, severely damaging PDVSA's ability to innovate and compete in the global petroleum market. PDVSA saw stagnant growth in the following era which was defined by a boom in oil prices. Between 2002 and 2012, incapacitating injuries to employees rose from 1.8 per million man hours to 6.2 (extremely high compared to 0.6 per million man hours for Pemex in 2012), highlighting the companies struggle to optimize. Many ex-PDVSA employees moved to Alberta, where the oil consistency is similar to that of the Orinoco. As a result, the number of Venezuelans in Alberta has risen from 465 in 2001 to 3,860 in 2011. Many PDVSA workers migrated to Colombia and joined Ecopetrol, and are credited with helping the company attain huge profits throughout the 2010s.
In 2006, Rafael Ramírez, the energy minister, gave PDVSA workers a choice: Support President Hugo Chávez, or lose their jobs. The minister also said: "PDVSA is red [the color identified with Chávez's political party], red from top to bottom". Chávez defended Ramírez, saying that public workers should back the "revolution". He added that "PDVSA's workers are with this revolution, and those who aren't should go somewhere else. Go to Miami". PDVSA continues to hire only supporters of the president, and PDVSA revenue is used to fund political projects.
Under the presidency of Carlos Andrés Pérez, whose economic plan, "La Gran Venezuela", called for the nationalization of the oil industry, Venezuela officially nationalized its oil industry on 1 January 1976 at the site of Zumaque oilwell 1 (Mene Grande). This was the birth of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA). All foreign oil companies that once did business in Venezuela were replaced by Venezuelan companies, such as Lagoven (Standard Oil), Maraven (Shell), and Llavonen (Mobil). Each of the former concessionaires was simply substituted by a new 'national' oil company, which maintained the structures and functions of its multi-national corporation (MNC) predecessor. With the 1976 nationalization, each previous multinational operator was converted into an affiliate of PDVSA; these affiliates were grouped into an administrative structure underneath both PDVSA and the Venezuelan Ministry of Energy. To prevent political uprising from within PDVSA, direct anti-organization clauses were written into the law creating the company. With this absorption, PDVSA became the employer of engineers with comprehensive technical training from the old multinational corporations and promptly took advantage of their newfound expertise. Within 25 years of nationalization, PDVSA would become the largest company in Latin America and the tenth most profitable in the world. In that 25-year span they went from 18 billion barrels to over 80 billion barrels worth of oil reserves, with a similar increase in production capacity.
PDVSA's poor post-nationalization performance resulted in Venezuela's opening of the company to global cooperation. The opening up of the Venezuelan oil industry, or Apertura, was initialized with a Venezuelan Supreme Court decision which removed older laws prohibiting cooperation with multi-national corporations Venezuelan land. From 1993 through 1998, PDVSA split extraction rights with multiple multi-national companies in special arrangements called “strategic associations”, in effect trading Venezuelan crude oil for the efficiency that came from outside expertise and technology. These “strategic associations” were controversial; Venezuela was able to maximize profits at the cost of lenient taxation on the multinational companies and the loss of sovereign control over domestic resources. With Chávez's election, Venezuela's attention became increasingly focused on complying with OPEC. As oil prices collapsed in the late 1990s, however, keeping the special arrangements while conforming to OPEC regulations became impossible, leading to an end of the Apertura arrangements for Venezuela.
Before the election of Chávez, PDVSA ran autonomously, making oil decisions based on internal guidance to increase profits. Chávez, once he came to power, unlocked PDVSA and effectively turned it into a direct government arm whose profits would be injected into social spending. The result of this was the creation of “Bolivarian Missions”, oil funded social programs targeting poverty, literacy, hunger, and more. With the Apertura, PDVSA became the de facto economic legislator of Venezuela, with many of its managers becoming active in Venezuelan politics and serving as national representatives in economic summits. Chávez continued this trend, further incorporating PDVSA into the government's structure, but made social welfare the priority. During his campaign, Chávez repeatedly remarked that PDVSA was previously too powerful and autonomous, and its managers acted subversively to Venezuela. Chávez turned the post-Apertura PDVSA into a political rallying point for his mostly lower-class supporters by associating its Apertura neo-liberal policies with the countries elites, energizing his working class supporters against the companies former special arrangements. In 1998 PDVSA produced 3.4 million barrels of oil a day and had 40,000 employees. By law it deposited its revenues in the sovereign fund accounts in Venezuela's Central Bank.
In December 2002 the Venezuelan general strike of 2002-2003 saw many of PDVSA's managers and employees (including the CTV trade union federation) lock out workers to pressure Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez to call early elections, and virtually stop oil production for two months. Nearly 19,000 employees, most of them seasoned professionals, were summarily dismissed, and production resumed with employees loyal to the elected government. The International Labour Organization (ILO) called on the Venezuelan government to launch "an independent investigation into allegations of detention and torture", surrounding this strike. The company has since formed its own militia, which all employees join on a voluntary basis, to ward off a potential "coup" by the government. It considers itself virtually indistinguishable from the state, its social programs more or less running the country's "socialist revolution".
In April and May 2005, PDVSA, per an agreement signed between the governments of Venezuela and Argentina, sent 50 million tonnes of fuel oil to the latter to alleviate the effects of an energy crisis due to a shortage of natural gas.
In November 2005, PDVSA and its subsidiary in the US, Citgo, announced an agreement with Massachusetts to provide heating oil to low income families in Boston at a discount of 40% below market price. Similar agreements were later set up with other states and cities in the US Northeast including New York's Bronx, Maine, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Delaware. Under the program, Citgo offered a total of around 50 million US gallons (190,000 m3) of heating oil at below market prices, equivalent to a discount of between 60 and 80 cents a gallon.
On 28 July 2006, credit ratings agency Moody's Investor Service said it was removing its standalone ratings on PDVSA because the oil company does not provide adequate operational and financial information. PDVSA has still not filed its 2004 financial results with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that were due in June 2005.
In 2008, PDVSA had been Latin America's largest company, but in the next year was overtaken by Petrobras and Pemex, according to a ranking of the region's top 500 companies from Latin Business Chronicle.
Assets of ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips were expropriated in 2007 after they declined to restructure their holdings in Venezuela to give PDVSA majority control, Total, Chevron, Statoil and BP agreed and retained minority shares in their Venezuelan projects. Reaching a settlement with ExxonMobil has proven difficult; Venezuela offered book value for ExxonMobil's assets and ExxonMobil asked for as much as $12 billion. This matter and others including the claims of ConocoPhillips remain before the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
PDVSA paid compensation for assets it nationalized, including $255 million paid to ExxonMobil on February 15, 2012 in compensation for nationalization of ExxonMobil's Venezuelan assets in 2007 and $420 million to be paid beginning in 2012 to U.S. firms Williams Cos Inc. and Exterran Holdings, Inc. for natural gas assets nationalized in 2009.
Also in 2007, PDVSA bought 82.14% percent of Electricidad de Caracas company from AES Corporation as part of a renationalization program. Subsequently, the ownership share rose to 93.62% (December 2008).
In 2012, PDVSA announced that it would enter into a joint venture agreement with Eni SpA and Repsol in order to initiate a gas production project at the Cardon VI gas block in Venezuela. Production from this joint venture is estimated to reach between 80-100 million cubic meters of gas. In February 2014, PDVSA and the Anglo-French oil firm Perenco entered into talks for a $600 million financing deal to boost production at their Petrowarao joint venture. In October 2014, Venezuela imported its first ever ship of oil from Algeria so that they could dilute their oil.
Following the death of Chávez in 2013, policies he enacted caused a crisis in Bolivarian Venezuela, with the nation's economy deteriorating greatly. Because of the ongoing hyperinflation and food shortage, paychecks have become all but valueless, leading to mass resignation from workers. By 2017, PDVSA could not even afford to export oil through international waters, which requires safety inspections and cleaning under maritime law, with a fleet of tankers stranded in the Caribbean Sea due to the issue. In addition, Nicolás Maduro fired the head of PDVSA and replaced him with Major General Manuel Quevedo, placating the military by giving them control of PDVSA. These recent developments have resulted in a fragmented corporate structure and not enough workers to keep certain rigs operating continuously. By the end of 2013, Venezuela produced 1.2 million barrels of oil per day from the Orinoco, falling short of its target of 1.5 million barrels. The repeated poor performances of PDVSA are heavily linked to Venezuela's current hyperinflation crisis. In order to correct for these shortcomings, Maduro has installed more Venezuelan military members in several key PDVSA positions, in an effort to reduce the corruption and inefficiency. Between 1999 and 2017 PDVSA earned an estimated $635 billion in revenue and produced an additional $406 billion worth of oil. Production dropped further, to half of its 1998 benchmark. Accountability for the funds was no longer required and Jorge Giordani, minister of planning until in 2014, estimates that $300 billion was simply stolen. Despite having some of the largest proven oil reserves in the world, in June 2018 PDVSA's actions grew more desperate as they began to import and refine foreign crude oil for the first time in the country's history so they could meet export demands. Oil production had also slowed to levels not seen since the 1950s due to economic and management difficulties.
Since 2015, a US Justice Department investigation into PDVSA corruption has resulted in 12 guilty pleas pertaining to a bribery scheme between PDVSA and its contractors; This scheme involved members within the company would insure favorable treatment of vendors in exchange for kickbacks. These actions violate the US's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and are classified as conspiracy to commit money laundering.
In May 2017, Goldman Sachs purchased $2.8 billion of PdVSA 2022 bonds from the Central Bank of Venezuela. In August 2017, Donald Trump's administration imposed economic sanctions against PDVSA.
With the prospects of Maduro leaving power in early 2019, which could bring both stability and a more trustworthy government other nations will loan to, confidence saw an assessable increase in the nation, with tangible financial benefits like an increase in value of bonds for PDVSA, the country's major oil and gas company (which is state-owned but backs Guaidó), which went up 5% in January 2019. Investors have said that the bonds would double in value when Maduro leaves office.
PDVSA bought 50% of the United States gasoline brand Citgo from Southland Corporation in 1986 and the remaining half in 1990. With full ownership of Citgo, PDVSA at its peak controlled 10% of the US domestic oil market, creating a lucrative export chain from Venezuelan soil to American consumers, as the two largest buyers of Venezuelan petroleum are the United States and China, respectively. PDVSA was, despite dwindling performance, able to add Russia's Rosneft as an extraction partner in 2013, with the anticipation of extracting 2.1 million barrels of petroleum per day. With the onset of the Venezuelan Crisis, Venezuela borrowed 1.5 billion dollars from Russia, offering 49.9% of PDVSA's share in Citgo as collateral; Venezuela's high likelihood of default means Citgo could be absorbed by Rosneft in the near future. On October 30, 2018 PDVSA paid $949 million on its Citgo backed bond to investors, a payment many analysts thought was impossible for the company given its recent liquidity struggles. This payment means that PDVSA will continue to own Citgo for the time being, but failure to pay in the future will result in Citgo transferring ownership to one of PDVSA's creditors. Losing Citgo would be disastrous for PDVSA, as they would lose the key terminal of their export chain to the US and the chemical additives necessary for oil refinery that Citgo produces; this loss would wreak additional havoc on Venezuela's economy, drying up the revenue stream that provides 90% of the government's hard-currency earnings. The next payment is due in April 2019; whether or not PDVSA will make a full payment is uncertain as Venezuela has been completely insolvent with the rest of their $60 billion debt. Canadian mining firm Crystallex is another creditor of PDVSA's Citgo holdings and could potentially end up in control should PDVSA default in 2020. Crystallex, through a US court case, has already received an undisclosed amount of Citgo shares in compensation for Venezuela's 2008 nationalization of their mines. A separate Canadian mining firm, Rusoro, is also pursuing $1.28 billion in repayment for the prior nationalization of its assets, which it is pursuing through the US justice system until PDVSA begins making payments.
There have been worsening safety problems since 2003, culminating in a gas leak at the Paraguaná Refinery Complex in August 2012 which caused an explosion, killing 48 people and damaging 1600 homes. Another major fire broke out at the El Palito refinery in September 2012.
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