Fuel Shipment Arrives in Venezuela

Yoshie Furuhashi yoshie at union.org.za
Sat Dec 28 14:34:45 MST 2002

Fuel Shipment Arrives in Venezuela
Fuel Shipment Arrives in Venezuela As President Chavez
Insists He's Winning Oil Standoff

The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela Dec. 28 —

Venezuela got some desperately needed gasoline from abroad
Saturday as President Hugo Chavez claimed he was winning
the battle against striking workers who have paralyzed the
world's fifth largest petroleum-exporting industry.

The Brazilian tanker Amazonian Explorer arrived with
525,000 barrels of gas off the coast of the eastern state
of Anzoategui, Globovision television reported. Smaller
tankers were to ship the cargo little more than a normal
day's demand of 400,000 barrels to several ports....

He awarded medals to troops participating in efforts to
reactivate the state-owned oil monopoly. Chavez has sent
soldiers to take over oil facilities and commandeer trucks
to distribute gasoline. His government is seeking
replacement dockworkers, tug boat and tanker crews, field
hands and executives....

Oil tankers that striking crews refused to bring to port
are beginning to dock, thanks to the support of the
military and "patriotic" sailors, Chavez said.

"I'm sure that in a few days, or weeks, the long (gas)
lines will disappear," said Chavez.

Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said new managers would soon
reopen a giant refinery in the Caribbean island of Curacao
to produce 200,000 barrels of gasoline per day for
Venezuelan use.

But the leader of the Curacao refinery's oil workers union,
Elvis Andrade, said the Refineria Isla sent its last
gasoline shipment Friday and shut down. A tanker left
Willemstad harbor for Venezuela carrying 170,000 barrels of
unleaded gasoline.

The refinery is owned by Curacao's government but is
operated by PDVSA. At full capacity, it can process 335,000
barrels of crude a day.

Scarcity has forced Chavez's government to seek
international help.

Trinidad was sending 400,000 barrels of gasoline. The
Dominican Republic sent rice. Colombia sent 180,000 tons of
food, the agriculture ministry said.

A small black market in gasoline emerged, with vendors
selling gas at five to 10 times the normal price of 26
cents a gallon. Venezuela's consumer protection agency
urged citizens to report illegal gasoline sales.

"I bought 20 liters (5 gallons) from speculators for 10,000
bolivares ($7). That's a robbery, but what else can I do? I
have a family to feed," said 45-year-old taxi driver David

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