ESPACIO PUBLICITARIO
CARACAS, Wednesday April 11, 2012 | Update
 
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April 11

Seized hill; politicized Pdvsa

Claims of increasing partisan stance after April 11, 2002

Pdvsa in-house staff went from 39,000 employees in 2002 to more than 97,000 ending 2011 (File photo)
ENDER MARCANO |  EL UNIVERSAL
Wednesday April 11, 2012  04:44 PM


The whistles on April 7, 2002 of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez meant the beginning of a veer in the domestic oil industry. The public dismissal of most of the upper-tier personnel of state-run oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) kicked off the operation to seize the hill so longed by the Head of State. Some months later, this would materialize upon the firing en masse of 20,000 corporate workers.

This cleared the way for politicization of the largest industry in Venezuela. The event -most feared by Pdvsa staff- was unavoidable.

A sentence that could sum up all these 10 years of "the new Pdvsa" is the memorable "Pdvsa is red, very red," uttered by its president Rafael Ramírez in 2006, a few days after the presidential election that year.

Pdvsa ex employees and analysts agree on pointing to the actions that unleashed the events of April 11 as the turning point. In the opinion of Rafael Quiroz, an oil economist and former Pdvsa worker, "From April 11, there was a breaking point in the way of managing Pdvsa. This episode is a political-partisan radicalization of the company that has been a hurdle in the way of management of the industry."

The government interest in fully controlling Pdvsa was very clear -grabbing its resources to use them as a political banner.

The new Pdvsa

Petróleos de Venezuela was originally conceived as a company responsible for exploration, production, distribution and trade of hydrocarbons.

Nowadays, Pdvsa's divisions also include the Food Producer and Distributer (Pdval); the building of houses through Petrocasas and support to Great Mission Housing Venezuela; contributions to several social welfare programs known as missions, in addition to Pdvsa Industrial and, most recently, Pdvsa Social, for payment of labor benefits.

"Tasks, responsibilities, functions have been entrusted to it, for which it is not prepared. Functions have been altered, causing inconveniences in production and the largest debt ever owed by Pdvsa," Quiroz asserted.

Downhill

While Pdvsa's new responsibilities might have a political dividend, the onus of the new labor burden, in addition to the funds for social contributions, has made an impact on the company's operations.

Over the past 10 years, there has been a slow, yet steady fall of crude oil output. In 2002, oil production amounted to 3.2 million barrels per day (bdp). Based on Pdvsa's report and accounts 2011, the year ended with an average drilling of 2.99 million bpd.

Add to this the failures in the industry facilities, resulting in unscheduled downtime of refineries, oil spills, and fatalities.

Translated by Conchita Delgado

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Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Brazil on March 13 to demand the ouster of embattled President Dilma Rousseff, carrying banners expressing anger at bribery scandals and economic woes. A banner read "We don't want a new Venezuela in Brazil."

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