Machado Says Venezuela “Show Can’t Go On”

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 13.Jul.2018) – Opposition leader María Corina Machado said the “show can’t go on” during a video broadcast from Punto Fijo.

The leader’s video in reaction to a recent oil spill at PDVSA that the state oil company blamed on workers.

“A criminal regime that transformed PDVSA from one of the companies with the best industrial safety indices into one of the most dangerous in the world, now pretends to blame the workers for this new spill,” wrote Machado in an official Twitter post. “It’s monstrous. My support for oil workers. Resist!,” she added.

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Ecuador Court Upholds $9 Bln Chevron Ruling

Oil site in Ecuador. Source: AP

(AP, 13.Jul.2018) – Ecuador’s highest court has upheld a US$9.5 billion judgment against oil giant Chevron for decades of rainforest damage.

Plaintiffs celebrated the constitutional court’s decision announced Tuesday night, saying it should pave the way for indigenous tribes to receive compensation for oil spills that contaminated groundwater and soil in their Amazon home.

“There’s no doubt now that we’ve won this long legal battle,” said Pablo Fajardo, the plaintiffs’ lawyer.

But the ruling is largely symbolic, as Chevron no longer operates in the South American country. That means Ecuador’s government will have to pursue assets owned by the San Ramon, California-based company in foreign courts, where it so far has had little luck.

Chevron had long argued that a 1998 agreement Texaco signed with Ecuador after a US$40-million clean-up absolves it of liability. Chevron bought Texaco in 2001.

Last week, an appeals court in Argentina rejected an attempt by Ecuador to collect on its award, echoing earlier rulings by courts in Canada, Gibraltar and Brazil.

In 2014, a US court of appeals in New York also denied Ecuador’s request, arguing that the original judgment was obtained through bribery, coercion and fraud.

Chevron said in a statement that the high court’s decision “is consistent with the pattern of denial of justice, fraud and corruption against Chevron in Ecuador”.

It added that Chevron “will continue to work through international courts to expose and hold accountable those responsible for the judicial fraud and extortion against Chevron in Ecuador”.

In an added twist, the American lawyer, who for years represented Ecuador in the matter, was barred on Tuesday from practising law in New York state.

The New York state appeals court found Steven Donziger guilty of professional misconduct, saying that in his appeal of the 2014 ruling, he did not challenge the judge’s findings of bribery, witness tampering, and the ghostwriting of a court opinion.

The findings “constitute uncontroverted evidence of serious professional misconduct which immediately threatens the public interest,” the appeals court said in announcing its suspension of Donzinger.

Donzinger did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

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Pemex, Energy Offices to be Moved

(Natural Gas Intelligence, Ronald Buchanan, 13.Jul.2018) – Mexico President-Elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador aims to decentralize the government in a sweeping plan to ease the congestion of population, buildings, vehicles and pollution in the “megalopolis” of Mexico City, a strategy likely to impact the country’s energy sector from top to bottom.

The government agencies set to be relocated to the provinces include state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex); state power utility Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE); energy ministry the Secretaría de Energía (Sener), as well as the energy regulators, the Comision Nacional de Hidrocarburos (CNH) and the Comision Reguladora de Energia (CRE).

Under the plan, Pemex headquarters would be moved from its 51-story Mexico City tower to Ciudad del Carmen on the southeastern Gulf Coast, a base of support that supplies operations in the Sound of Campeche, where most oil and gas is produced.

Sener, CNH and CRE are slated to be moved to Villahermosa, capital of Tabasco, the state where Lopez Obrador was born.

The age of the internet should ease the transition. These days, almost all government business is conducted online.

Since the 2013-14 energy reform, sessions of the CNH and CRE have been broadcast live by Internet, and the rules of both regulators insist in keeping a distance from representatives of the companies involved in auctions.

In order to ensure transparency and avoid any hint of corruption, CNH and CRE commissioners have to provide reports to their superiors of meetings with representatives of companies, rather as diplomats of the Western and Soviet blocks did whenever they met each other at cocktail parties during the Cold War.

The Federal District of Mexico City and its surrounding conurbation currently houses a population of close to 20 million.

Public transportation is far from adequate and roads are often gridlocked. Working hours in Mexico are the longest in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, aka OECD. Many people spend four hours a day — two each way — between their homes and their workplaces.

Speaking in a video produced by his Morena party, Lopez Obrador said that the decentralization plan should help improve the quality of life in the capital as well as providing more equal opportunities for the nation’s regions.

“There are islands of rapid growth in the country, but they are surrounded by areas that have been abandoned,” he said.

Yet another reason, he added, was the susceptibility of the capital to earthquakes. About 10,000 people died in the 1985 earthquake. Since then, stricter building regulations and the use of more sophisticated technology have improved safety standards. Even so, two severe tremors last September caused at least 465 deaths, and 180,000 homes were destroyed in the capital and in southern Mexico.

The plan to decentralize is to be executed steadily, in a process that is likely to take almost all of the six years of the upcoming administration and with a minimum of disruption, according to Monterrey-based businessman Alfonso Romo, who Lopez Obrador has named to be his chief of staff.

Under the plan, five key ministries would remain in Mexico City: Gobernacion, the Interior ministry; the Finance and Foreign ministries; the ministries of Defense (Army and Air Force), and the Navy.

López Obrador has said on several occasions that, as president, he will live and work in the National Palace in the historic center of Mexico City, where critics claim his presence will make even worse the gridlock that often besets the area.

For decades, Mexican presidents have worked and lived in the relatively leafy surroundings of Los Pinos, the Mexican equivalent of the White House.

The Pemex tower, in a nondescript but central barrio of Mexico City, is now one of several tall buildings that dot the Mexico City skyline. But when it was built in the early 1980s it was by far the nation’s largest building and a symbol of Mexico’s huge oil boom that ended in an equally spectacular financial crash and the nationalization of the Mexican banks.

The corporate offices of the CFE are in a much more elegant part of central Mexico City than where the Pemex tower is located. The Energy Ministry is currently housed in the south of the capital, near the Plaza de Toros, the largest bullring in the world.

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Guyana’s Doors Open for Caricom Investors

(CMC, 13.Jul.2018) – President David Granger has extended an invitation to Caricom member states to invest in the oil sector and other sectors of Guyana.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 39th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) here recently, Granger said, “The vision that I have for the Caribbean Community is that all parts of the Caribbean must see this new resource as parts of the community, and they should be willing to share their expertise with us and they should be willing to invest in it. I would like to affirm that the doors of investment, the doors of infrastructure, the doors of information technology, the doors of innovation will be open to our colleagues in the Caribbean.”

The president also placed on record his Government’s willingness to collaborate with stakeholders in Trinidad and Tobago’s oil and gas industry as Guyana becomes a major oil producer with first oil expected in 2020.

“As you know, Guyana is still putting in place the legislative framework, the regulatory framework; we are looking to recruit skilled persons in that sector. It is still too soon to tell. I look forward to working with the Caribbean. Trinidad has a long-established oil and gas industry and I would feel that our Caribbean colleagues would be able to participate in everything that Guyana does — agriculture, timber, gold, diamond mining,” President Granger disclosed.

Following eight major oil finds, ExxonMobil is set to begin production in early 2020.

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Ecuador’s ITT Output Around 60 Mb/d

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 13.Jul.2018) – Oil production from the Ishpingo, Tambococha and Tiputini or ITT field is around 60,000 barrels per day.

With additional work activities, production from ITT is expected to reach up to 70,000 b/d, reported the daily newspaper El Universo, citing PetroAmazonas EP Manager Álex Galárraga. The official didn’t say when production is expected to approach these levels.

Galárraga added that the state company continues to work with the respective to obtaining the environmental license for Ishpingo, which isn’t likely to be obtained until September of 2018, he explained.

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CNH Says Mexico Must Reduce Oil Dependence

(Energy Analytics Institute, Ian Silverman, 13.Jul.2018) – Mexico must reduce its dependence on the United States in regards energy issues.

The country can achieve this goal by increasing its refining capacity, reported the daily newspaper La Jornada, citing National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH by its Spanish acronym) President Juan Carlos Zepeda. The official added that the next administration has a good possibility to fulfill the objective of assisting Mexico gain greater energy autonomy.

Zepada agreed that construction of a new refinery to assist reduce gasoline imports – which currently represent 75% of demand in Mexico and come entirely from the U.S. – would assist Mexico in terms of gaining energy autonomy.

The official also said strategies should be sought to stop importing 85% of the natural gas used by Mexico, and which at the moment also comes in great part from the U.S.

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