PdVSA says value of assets up by $ 100 bn under Chavez

Jun 28, 2010 02:00 AM

The value of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela's assets have risen from $ 49 bn to $ 149 bn since President Hugo Chavez took office in 1999, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said.
"We've made it one of the world's five leading oil companies" after "finding it with losses of $ 14 bn (in 1999) due to disinvestment and bad decisions," the minister, who is also president of PdVSA, said.

The company has recovered steadily and made $ 4.15 bn in profit between 2006 and 2007, he added. PdVSA posted $ 4.6 bn in profit in 2009 and is expecting that total to rise this year "because we're developing the Plan Siembra Petrolera (Oil Sowing Plan)" and have invested $ 15 bn in that program over the past three years, he said.
The first period of that plan, from 2005 to 2012, has included, among other aims, the quantifying and certifying of oil reserves in the massive Orinoco Oil Belt in eastern Venezuela and the Orinoco Project, under which 27 blocks have been selected for development with the cooperationof selected companies.

Governments prior to Chavez's, Ramirez said, "... were making moves to privatize the state oil company and, therefore, were turning over PdVSA's operations to multinationals, using the excuse of high production costs".
Before Chavez, PdVSA had 45,000 workers, some 20,000 of whom were fired in early 2003 for taking part in a strike aimed at forcing the president to step down.
"Now the company has 91,000 employees, a large number of whom are 'outsourced,' (working for) contractors," Ramirez said, adding that "it's not bureaucracy, as they've sought to portray it."

Referring to an oil slick detected in late May in Lake Maracaibo, PdVSA's president said the "situation in under control" and was the product of "sabotage", echoing earlier statements by the company's environment director, Ramiro Ramirez.
"There's no spill, those are leaks and the leaks we have in Lake Maracaibo (in north-western Venezuela) do not exceed 8 barrels of oil per day," the minister said.

PdVSA's environment director was quoted as saying that crude clean-up brigades had removed a large amount of "organic and inorganic waste (from the lake), such as plastic bottles, wood, pieces of mattresses, refrigerators and even vehicle parts" that were tossed in by area residents, and which "for the most part did not have traces of crude".
Raw sewage from lakeside communities, as well as other contaminants brought it from several tributaries, also pollute Lake Maracaibo.

Source / EFE
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