Venezuela: Maduro Declares State of Emergency at State-Run Oil Company

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech during the commemoration of the 14th
YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images

Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro declared a “state of emergency” at the state-run oil company Petroleum of Venezuela (PDVSA) this week, warning that he needed to protect the country’s energy industry from escalating “imperialist aggression.”

Maduro made the announcement during a speech given alongside PDSVA employees as the industry continues to teeter on the brink of total collapse, despite Venezuela having some of the largest oil reserves in the world. As part of his plan to rebuild the industry, he announced that he would appoint former vice president and alleged drug kingpin Tareck El Aissami as the leader of a commission aimed at restructuring the oil industry.

“I am declaring a state of emergency [in the Venezuelan oil industry] and therefore calling hydrocarbon industry in order to adopt the urgent and necessary measures to guarantee national energy security and protect the industry from imperialist aggression,” he said, as U.S. economic sanctions on the Maduro regime continue to cripple their ability to export oil around the world.

He explained that the commission, which will also be headed up by the former Minister of Petroleum Asdrúbal Chávez, will have all the necessary “power to initiate the process of change, transformations and integral defense of the entire oil industry.”

“I am putting all the power of the State and the nation to enter PDVSA with everything,” he declared. “I am giving you the power so that you direct and lead the oil industry towards a new model of socialist management of the 21st century.”

Maduro also confirmed that the restructuring will be supported by his Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino, who will be able to use “all the power” of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces to “guarantee the security of all facilities with a new plan.”

Other members of the “Presidential Commission for the Defense, Restructuring, and Reorganization of the National Oil Industry” will include Minister of Petroleum Manuel Quevedo, installed as the head of the PDSVA following Maduro’s takeover and consequent militarization of the oil industry back in late 2017.

“This commission must start meeting immediately from the end of this ceremony and initiate a process of review and recovery of PDVSA workers,” Maduro added.

Last week, the petroleum economist and professor at Central University of Venezuela Rafael Quiroz published the results of a study that found that the country’s six largest PDSVA oil refineries were producing just 8.5 percent of their total capacity of 3.1 million barrels of oil a day (BPD).

The industry’s effective collapse is largely a result of chronic inefficiencies and the walkout of a majority of its employees, Venezuela’s six largest oil refineries are currently producing just 205,000 BPD, the lowest level since 1945. Because of their lack of production, the socialist regime is now forced to import fuel from allies such as Russia and China to meet nationwide demand.

According to Quiroz, PDSVA would need an investment of around $250 billion over the next ten years in order to turn things around and return to the 3.2 million BPD that the company was producing before its nationalization at the hands of socialist revolutionary Hugo Chávez following his election in 1998.

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