Merida, January 2, 2019 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Efforts to sabotage Venezuela’s oil industry were foiled over the New Year, authorities have reported, when an armed attack against the Yagua oil installations in Carabobo State was repelled by security forces.
The incident, which Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo described as a “terrorist attack,” occurred in the early hours of Monday December 31 at the gasoline filling plant. A police investigation is underway.
According to Quevedo, who is also president of the state-run oil company PDVSA, which owns the plant, two armed subjects tried to enter the plant and opened fire against the armed forces which protect it.
“The attempted sabotage was frustrated thanks to the security deployment which the Bolivarian National Armed Forces have in the facilities,” Quevedo told state TV network VTV. “The military men on service were attacked with firearms. The aggression was repelled and, regrettably, two citizens died. One has been identified and the other was undocumented,” he added.
La Yagua is strategically important as it supplies gasoline to large parts of the heavily populated central region of Venezuela, including the capital Caracas.
Plan to disrupt PDVSA
Minister Quevedo linked the New Year attack to two other recent problems in PDVSA’s installations, both of which he claimed were also caused by “sabotage.”
Quevedo claimed that there is a “plan which we have denounced before and which looks to affect the distribution of gasoline in the country with terrorist attacks.” Operations at the plant are, nonetheless, continuing with “total normality” he did stress.
Las operaciones de PDVSA se encuentran en total normalidad para que la familia venezolana continúe disfrutando, en paz, de estas festividades de año nuevo. 2/2 pic.twitter.com/xrAmvE4M7g— Manuel Quevedo (@MQuevedoF) December 31, 2018
“The operations in PDVSA are working in total normality so that the Venezuelan family can continue to enjoy this festive period of new year in peace,” he tweeted.
In December, an explosion in PDVSA’s El Ingenio facilities in Guatire, Miranda State, as well as issues in installations in Zulia State, both affected distribution in the regions.
Whilst no official statements were made at the time, Quevedo stated this New Year that both incidents were due to acts of sabotage. However, doubts remain following reports of a burst pipe in Guatire which may have caused the explosion.
Government spokespersons have previously denounced right wing extremist efforts to disrupt not just gasoline distribution, but also food, medicine, the electrical grid and other vital systems, often pointing the finger at the most radical rightist political leaders and foreign anti-government leaders.
Venezuela’s oil industry has been struggling in recent times due to corruption, brain-drain, mismanagement, and underfunding, a situation worsened by US-led sanctions. It has returned ever lower production levels as a result, causing sporadic and uneven ongoing gasoline shortages in the west of the country and affecting the national purse.
Independent estimates suggest that financial sanctions, which include numerous barriers to the repatriation of over US $1 billion a year in profits made by PDVSA’s US subsidiary, CITGO, as well as forbid PDVSA from accessing credit and renegotiating debt, have cost the Venezuelan oil industry over US $6 billion.