Inside, confidential and off the record
Blood and Gas
This is the true price of the dragon gas;
looking the other way as Venezuela drowns in its own blood.
It’s not clear how ordinary Venezuelans have reacted to last Saturday’s “historic” Dragon gas deal signing between T&T and their country; there is no longer a free press there and in any case many were probably too busy scavenging for food to care.
Nor was there much comment from Venezuela’s political opposition on account of most of them being in jail or dead.
One thing however is clear, the sight of a smiling Dr. Rowley and his ministers in Caracas happily taking a Photo Op with the man the entire region has condemned as a brutal dictator; Nicolas Maduro, should send a clear signal that oil and gas are not the only precious commodities in short supply in T&T; so is having a moral conscience
Defenders of the Dragon gas field deal claim that it will help curtail gas shortages at home as well as provide Venezuela with the money needed to help alleviate the catastrophic economic crisis it is in.
This is willful blindness to reality and a pathetic attempt to pretend that Venezuela is a normal country and not as the Organization of American States views it; a repressive narco dictatorship. And that its state run Oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is just another oil company and not a front for Maduro and his regime to launder money and loot from, as evidenced by the countless allegations of state corruption against it.
The reality is that if ever the deal moves ahead it would mean that T&T’s taxpayers will be helping prop up a repressive regime that is killing its own people and destabilizing the entire region just to give the government the illusion of an achievement it can boast about; apart from being T&T’s experts on pasture grooming.
Given the fanfare over the Dragon deal you might think we had won the natural gas lottery, but T&T will receive 150 million cubic feet of gas per day, which sounds impressive but is actually less than 4 % of local production; or enough to run one methanol plant.
Further complicating things is the question of whether this deal will ever actually bear fruit.
The Chavez/Maduro regime has a record of signing gas and oil agreements and never honoring them, almost like they are dictators putting on a show just to pretend they are a functioning government or something.
This is best illustrated by Venezuela’s stalled gas deal with Colombia.
The deal signed way back in 2004 has yet to see any gas cross the border which is ironic given that crossing the border into Colombia is what millions of starving Venezuelans have become experts at.
Many in the media are ignoring all of this and are just regurgitating government talking points, preoccupying themselves with questions about the price of the gas.
A better question would be “why is T&T doing business with an oil company that has more allegations of corruption than actual oil”.
Only just this past week AP reported that German national Matthias Krull pled guilty in his role in a $US1.2 Billion PDVSA embezzlement scheme and named his co-conspirators as including Carmelo Urdaneta Aqui, former legal counsel to the Venezuelan Minister of Oil and Mining, and Abraham Edgardo Ortega, former Executive Director of Finance.
Imagine the Minister of Finance announcing that the government is sending a Billion dollars to help a Nigerian prince he met online ship some rare coins to the USA with said Prince promising to pay it back with interest and reporters asking “How much coins”?
The really iconic moment of this deal though occurred when Minister Franklin Khan told the media he was “unaware” of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Because apparently he just came back to T&T after spending 10 years visiting Mars.
It should be clear now that there is no level Dr. Rowley’s government won’t stoop to in its appeasement of the Maduro dictatorship. Whether it’s condemning OAS chief Luis Almagro, deporting asylum seekers or providing the regime with food and supplies they never pay for.
This is the true price of the dragon gas; looking the other way as Venezuela drowns in its own blood.
It’s fascinating though that one of the Government’s partners on the dragon deal is Royal Dutch Shell (RDS).
During the 1980s RDS did business with a government that was condemned by the entire world; apartheid era South Africa. The dragon deal may well be “historic” in that it shows how history repeats itself.
Darryn Dinesh Boodan/ Trinidad Express / Aug. 31, 2018
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