In the Reuters report republished in full below, the corporate media (CNBC/Reuters) overstepped itself – again – taking every conceivable opportunity to attack President Chávez in what should have been a simple, straight-forward news bulletin. They begin by raising questions about his character, then continue an attempt to undermine his statement about Venezuela’s oil reserves:
- “…the former soldier said in a speech in which he denied he is a dictator, complained he was being unfairly demonized.”
What has this description of the president to do with the report on oil reserves? In a similar report about Saudi Arabian oil would they refer to the unelected King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz as one who denies he is a dictator? (On the other hand, how could the Abdullah deny the obvious!)
- “There are suggestions that countries, including Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, have exaggerated their oil reserves in the past.”
“There are suggestions” – by whom? CNBC and Reuters or their “experts?” Can Reuters provide us with a credible example?
- “Others say the lack of independent verification gave rise to doubts.”
“others say” – who are they and who is doing the doubting?
- “A year ago, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that the Orinoco belt held some 513 billion barrels of crude that could be recovered — if costs were not an issue.”
If the U.S. Geological Survey does not qualify as “independent verification” in the eyes of Reuters, who does?
- “Some experts say … that even with global prices currently climbing to close to $100 a barrel, exploiting most of it would be prohibitively expensive.”
Here again, “Some [unidentified] experts”, suggest that extraction of Venezuelan oil would be “prohibitively expensive”. Crude oil in the Orinoco River Belt is currently being extracted and the price today is $91.02. Are PDVSA and partner oil companies extracting it? Yes. Are they making a profit? Yes. Where’s the problem?
- “Some experts say the area’s geology means it is uncertain how much oil could actually be extracted …”
And again, Reuters cites “some experts” who are “uncertain” how much of Venezuelan can be extracted “because of the area’s geology” – even though it’s being extracted now and has been so for many years. “The area’s geology?” without any explanation? It’s just another example of throwing shit at the wall of readers’ minds to see how much of it sticks.
- “There are also doubts about when touted Orinoco projects will come online because of mismanagement in the state oil company PDVSA, “
“… because of mismanagement in the state oil company PDVSA”– this statement is a gratuitous, unfounded accusation; neither, Reuters nor CNBC can provide a single credible source for this outrageous claim. It works like this: 1. The Venezuelan private media makes these claims, based only on hearsay (i.e. gossip). 2. The Western Media, like Washington Post, New York Times, BBC, etc., repeat the hearsay and repeated often enough, it becomes “fact.” In this case, Reuters/CNBC didn’t even bother to cite “some experts” or “some reports”; rather, they directly stated that PDVSA is mismanaged.
- There [is] uncertainty about investing in Venezuela, where Chávez has nationalized most of the oil industry.
Of course some corporations are uncertain about investing in Venezuela where the interests of the people are put ahead of the corporations and where in this case, the transnational oil companies can no longer strip Venezuela’s petroleum and walk, paying 0 to 1% royalties as they had done for decades before the people elected Hugo Chávez Frias as president for the first time in 1998.
Actually, Venezuela was nationalizing its oil industry in the early 70’s – when Hugo Chávez was still a teenager. Nationalization was complete and PDVSA was born when he was 22 years old. So Chávez did not nationalize Venezuela’s oil industry as Reuters states. He did however, put teeth into the then existing nationalization, requiring foreign oil companies to pay for what they had previously paid little to nothing – and forced them to give up controlling interest to the government, i.e. the people. Reported in Wikipedia:
“So for all practical purposes, Venezuela was already well on its way to nationalization by 1972. It did not become official however until the presidency of Carlos Andrés Pérez, whose economic plan, ‘La Gran Venezuela’, called for the nationalization of the oil industry and diversification of the economy via import substitution. The country officially nationalized its oil industry on 1 January 1976, and along with it came the birth of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) which is the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company. All foreign oil companies that once did business in Venezuela were replaced by Venezuelan companies. PDVSA controls activity involving oil and natural gas in Venezuela. In 1980, PDVSA bought the US company Citgo and is the third-largest oil company in the world.”
Finally, look at the numbers reported by Reuters in the self-same article:
“OPEC said that Saudi Arabia’s reserves stood at 265 billion barrels in 2009.” – and …
“A year ago, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that the Orinoco belt held some 513 billion barrels of crude that could be recovered.”
So what is Reuter’s problem with the claim made by President Chávez?
This is not journalism. This is poorly written fiction. A first year student in a creative writing class could do better!
– Les Blough, Editor
Venezuela Says Oil Reserves Surpass Saudi Arabia’s
January 17, 2011
Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez told Reuters that the new reserves, which pushed the total 41 percent higher than the previous year, were booked in the South American OPEC member’s vast Orinoco extra heavy crude belt.
A jubilant Chavez told parliament that Venezuela’s reserves now surpassed those of Saudi Arabia.
“We have enough for 200 years,” the former soldier said in a speech in which he denied he was a dictator, complained that he was being unfairly “demonized” and offered to give up much-criticized decree powers a year ahead of schedule.
There are suggestions that countries, including Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, have exaggerated their oil reserves in the past, though the producers deny doing so.
Some analysts point out that some OPEC members’ reserves figures have not changed in years, suggesting new discoveries had exactly matched output, while others say the lack of independent verification gave rise to doubts.
OPEC said that Saudi Arabia’s reserves stood at 265 billion barrels in 2009.
Saudi Arabia’s advantage is that its oil is mostly light, conventional, easily-pumped crude, while the Orinoco deposits are extra heavy tar-like sour crude that must be upgraded or mixed with a lighter grade to create an exportable blend.
A year ago, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that the Orinoco belt held some 513 billion barrels of crude that could be recovered — if costs were not an issue.
Some experts say the area’s geology means it is uncertain how much oil could actually be extracted — and that even with global prices currently climbing to close to $100 a barrel, exploiting most of it would be prohibitively expensive.
There are also doubts about when touted Orinoco projects will come online because of mismanagement in the state oil company PDVSA, which has a majority stake in each block, and uncertainty about investing in Venezuela, where Chavez has nationalized most of the oil industry.
The technology needed to pump the Orinoco’s ultra-heavy crude is much more complicated and expensive than the light oil machinery.
But since analysts say the world’s reserves of easy-to-produce light oil are running out, the future of the industry is in more difficult production areas like the Orinoco belt, Brazil’s deep water fields or Canada’s tar sands.
Ramirez also told Reuters that the country’s proven natural gas reserves had risen 5 percent in 2010 compared with the previous year to 195 trillion cubic feet.
Chavez told parliament Venezuela now had the eighth largest proven gas reserves in the world, and that it would soon reach fifth place.