Monday, November 4, 2013

Venezuela Seizes Oil Platforms Owned by U.S. Companies

Venezuela has quietly seized control of two oil rigs owned by a unit of Houston-based Superior Energy Services after the company shut them down because the state oil monopoly was months behind on payments. 
The seizure took place Thursday after a judge in the state of Anzoategui, accompanied by four members of the local police and national guard, entered a Superior depot and ordered it to hand over control of two specialized rigs to an affiliate of PDVSA, the state-owned oil producer. 
PDVSA justified the equipment’s expropriation, calling it essential to the South American nation’s development and welfare, according to a court order obtained by The Associated Press. Company workers were instructed to load the rigs, known as snubbing units and used to repair damaged casing, onto trucks to be deployed at “critical wells” elsewhere, according to the document.
... Oil companies are weary of working with PDVSA, which has accumulated huge debts to service contractors on whom it depends to develop the world’s largest proven oil reserves. 
Centeno said Superior stopped servicing PDVSA in July after negotiations broke down over millions of dollars in unpaid bills stretching back to December. Removal of the equipment will take a few days, so Superior is also feeding and sheltering the police officers and PDVSA crew on site, he said.
 A couple take-aways from this article. First, it is obvious that Venezuela lacks the equipment or parts needed to maintain their current production facilities or they would have to confiscate the equipment from a U.S. company. Second, it is also obvious that they lack the trained man-power to operate their facilities, or they wouldn't have needed help loading the equipment--and, instead, would be running the platforms themselves.

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