Caracas, January 2, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, has begun to charge in foreign currency for gas sales along the Venezuela-Colombia border.
As of today, a litre of gasoline is being sold at 1200 Colombian pesos (40 US cents) from gas stations in Ureña in Táchira and Paraguachó in Zulia as part of the pilot venture. Gas is currently sold at around $2400 per litre in the rest of Colombia and 6 bolivars in Venezuela, or just below one cent at the official rate.
The move was announced on December 29 by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who described the measure as a “strike against the mafias” and “an advancement towards a healthy border”.
The Colombian-Venezuela border has been a source of dispute between the two neighbouring countries for the past two years and Caracas has consistently accused the Colombian government of turning a blind eye to paramilitary activity and the smuggling of 100 bolivar bills, subsidised food and fuel out of Venezuelan territory.
The Venezuelan government has said that the new measure is aimed at putting an end to gasoline contraband, which reaches around 980,000 litres a day according to government sources.
In August, the Colombian-Venezuela border was finally re-opened after being closed for a year at Venezuela’s behest.
The policy change will also help to offset a loss in foreign currency earnings due to decreased global oil prices in 2016.