PDVSA sail in a sea of irregularities is a series of four reportages, infographics, videos, and podcasts made by the Alianza Rebelde Investiga – Rebel Alliance Research- (ARI in Spanish), which reunite three Venezuelan media: El Pitazo, RunRunes, and Tal Cual alongside the platform Connectas. The research reveals the poor management of the ships fleet by Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) during the administrations of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro.
The journalistic project shows a loss of $3.700 million from the Venezuela public heritage due to the payment of ships that were never built, overprices, administrative clutter, and stranded boats, the hiring of companies without trajectory as the consequence of the bankruptcy in the oil industry and the impact of the sanctions.
The reports highlight the presence of characters such as Rafael Ramírez, former oil minister and former president of PDVSA for over a decade, who led the failed plan Siembra Petrolera (Oil Seeding); Asdrúbal Chávez, cousin of late president Hugo Chávez and the top authority of the oil-state company. The cousin Chávez is an engineer who, between 2007 y 2013, managed the PDVSA fleet; and Wilmer Ruperti, the businessman who helped the Chavismo with oil-tanks during the oil strike in January 2002 and February 2003, and now is trying to help Nicolás Maduro to skip the US sanctions imposed to Pdvsa.
The research work gets supported by almost 350 internal audit documents from Pdvsa to construction projects and oil-tankers freights, as well as more than 18 interviews with captains and other expert sources.
The readers will find information and data about the dark management of the other three filial of PDVSA (Pdv-Marina, Dianca, and PDV Naval) thanks to the leaks of these documents.
As a preview of this investigation, El Pitazo summarizes some findings:
- The fleet of PDVSA sails in a sea of irregularities. Poor management has caused a loss of $3.700 million.
- In 2005, Hugo Chávez approved the construction of 18 oil tankers in Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, and Iran, for an amount of $1.200 million. PDVSA advanced the payment of $500 million and only received one tank and late. In Argentina and Brazil, two ships remain stranded.
- At the beginning of 2020, amid the international sanctions, 46 ships supported the maritime transport of PDVSA, although barely three of them are property of the state oil company.
- Since 2017, the ship Negra Matea is stranding in Portugal due to repairs. Another six tanks remain anchored in Venezuela. The situation has caused a loss of $75 million.
- From 2015 to 2017, 128 oil tankers, 22 from the state oil company and the rest from foreign companies, provided services to Pdvsa.
- PDVSA paid $177 million in the freight to two ships bought in 95% with Venezuelan money. This business occurred within the framework of a joint venture between Cuba and Venezuela.
- Almost $100 million got lost in the project of a shipyard in the Sucre state, in the Venezuelan east-coast. The shipyard never worked. Other $370 million got lost in irregularities during the operation between Dianca and Pdvsa Naval, according to the audit report of 2017.
- Rafael Ramírez suggests asking Asdrúbal Chávez about the destruction of the PDVSA’s fleet. The former president of the Venezuelan oil company refused to answer about the allegedly over price in the purchase of tanks from Japan during his administration.
- Asdrúbal Chávez assured that the two ships bought to China to provide services to the countries members of PetroCaribe (and now serve almost exclusively to Cuba) meant a saving from $30 million to $50 million per year. But Pdvsa promised to pay $177 million in freight until 2024 to maintain these services.
- The Venezuelan government has leaned on old friends like Wilmer Ruperti to guarantee its operations.