PDVSA Gas president detained, purge underway
Petroleumworld 02 28 2019
Venezuela´s military intelligence agency Sebin last night detained PDVSA (PdV Gas) president Rosa Mota as part of a new internal purge aimed at ensuring political loyalty.
A Sebin counterintelligence unit arrested Mota at the state-owned gas company´s Venadria Tower headquarters in Caracas, and ordered her to appear before a terrorism judge, according to a Sebin report obtained by Argus . She is being held at the counterintelligence agency DGCIM in the Venezuelan capital.
It is not clear why she was taken in, but PdV officials describe a politically motivated "witch hunt" among senior managers. The purge is unfolding as PdV chief executive and oil minister Manuel Quevedo is out of the country attending the IEA-IEF-Opec Symposium on Energy Outlooks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Mota previously worked in crude production in northern Monagas state.
PdV Gas is a subsidiary of Venezuela´s national oil company PdV, which has been the target of US oil sanctions since 28 January.
Despite Venezuela´s plentiful natural gas reserves, PdV has historically focused on oil. But gas is widely seen as a future anchor of growth. European companies Repsol and Eni were among the early movers with the Cardon 4 joint venture that operates the offshore Perla gas field.
In August, PdV signed a technical service agreement with Shell to rein in extensive gas flaring in northern Monagas.
"Shell remains involved in the project to reduce gas flaring from operations in the Monagas area," the company told Argus today, adding that it continues to closely monitor the Venezuelan situation and prioritizes the safety of staff and their families. "We continue to operate in the country in strict adherence to all applicable laws, regulations, trade controls and sanctions."
According to a 6 February statement from PdV, PdV Gas officials including Mota and her boss, board vice-president for gas Nemrod Contreras, met with Shell officials led by Shell Venezuela president Luis Prado to advance the project, which is aimed at capturing 350mn cf/d of flared gas.
Shell said in August that its flaring reduction project "will be funded by PdV".
The agreement was signed in tandem with a separate preliminary agreement among PdV, Shell and Trinidad and Tobago´s state-owned gas company NGC to develop Venezuela´s offshore Dragon field. Production would be shipped by pipeline to Shell´s Hibiscus platform off Trinidad, where it would be used across the country´s industries, including the Atlantic liquefaction complex.
The turmoil inside PdV coincides with deepening political uncertainty across Venezuela. The US and more than 50 other countries no longer recognize Nicolas Maduro as president, and recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president instead.
Tensions are running high on Venezuela´s border with Colombia, where more than 400 members of Venezuela´s military and police have fled since 23 February. On that day Venezuela´s opposition tried to bring humanitarian aid into Venezuela through Colombia and Brazil, but most of the trucks were blocked and others attacked or burned . Clashes continue on the Venezuelan side of the lengthy border with Colombia, and inside the border with Brazil.
Venezuela´s GDP is forecast to collapse by around 25pc in 2019, with hyperinflation amounting to some 200pc/month.
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