The gasoline shortage in Venezuela is not something new, it is a long time problem that extended all over the country, and it was this 2020 that begins to felt in the capital, Caracas. About lines in the border state, there are registers since, at least, 2015, and the supply control started in 2010.
Today, the problem is national, and there is no solution on the horizon in a short time. That was the theme in the forum-chat organized by El Pitazo, with the 20-year-experience and former Operation and Processes Manager in the Paraguana Refinery Center, the largest in Venezuela.
Much has been talking about gasoline’s problems also, many are the reasons that national and regional authorities in Venezuela use to justified the shortage: smuggling, sabotage, international sanctions, and the economic war. The most recently added to the list is the Covid-19 pandemic. All of them have a common denominator: they are only external causes and never indicated the internal ones.
But, Herrera puts into question all those reasons and assures that the causes are others. The expert says that the bad state of the Venezuela refineries, the lack of raw material and investments in the area, the corruption, and not having qualified staff are the real reasons for the gasoline shortage in Venezuela, plus the damaged relationships with the United States. “All of this was and still is predictable.”
Herrera talks about the state of the refineries in the country and the future of Venezuela in this subject. He says that, nowhere in the world, gasoline is extracting as seen in the stations, and crude oil doesn’t turn into fuel that easily. “These are ideas that we must erase from our beliefs as a society.”
“Gasoline is a mixture of different elements, a delicate recipe that requires catalytic naphtha, alkylate, butane, pentane, and additives such as Metil tert-butyl eter, or tert-amil metil eter, which regulate the octane number of the mixture,” says Herrera. None of those compounds are producing now in Venezuela, and the additives must be importing. And is the U.S. market the most accessible.
According to Herrera, it is impossible that, under these circumstances, the refineries in Venezuela are operating, just like official sources are saying. For him, the latest news about the reactivation of catalytic cracker plant at El Palito refinery is false.”With that plant, they can only get catalytic naphtha, but the other ingredients would be missing.”
About the state of the national refineries, Herrera says that all are in the worse state ever, he adds that the national refinery system will require dollar millions investment to recovery, and some more millions to achieve an optimal level of production.
“If the government approve all the resources to recover the Amuay’s machinery, it hires trained personnel such as the workers fired in 2002, pays them good wages, and economic relations with the United States are restored, in a period of four to five months, the Amuay plant would already be fully suitable for the initial production, and refining tests,” Herrera affirms.
About the current situation, and the impact in the future, Herrera says the gasoline prices have been unsustainable for many years, but that the idea of dollarizing at the international market price is not necessary either.
“Fuels must have a price that covers production and distribution, as well as leave a profit that ensures the subsistence of the country’s refining system, but that does not mean that it should cost the same as it costs in other countries,” says Herrera. “Likewise, already in Venezuela we are paying from 1 to 4 dollars per liter to the mafias that have been born from this situation, in the United States, a gallon (3.78 liters) costs just over a dollar,” he adds.
For the engineer, the Venezuelan state will not be able to sustain this reality much longer. Herrera calls for the authorities. For his experience, he knows that it is something that can be solved, but it requires the will, money and necessary measures to achieve it.