While Venezuela and its state-owned oil company PDVSA go from crisis to crisis, creditors who have not been paid are fighting for a position to ensure that they receive the first money when the day comes
OPEC -land is in fact bankrupt and creditors are increasingly looking for their oil fields, and their main target is Citgo, the Houston-based oil refinery that processes Venezuelan crude and whose value is estimated at around the US. $ 19,000,000.
(Read: judge gives permission for seizure of Citgo, the largest capital of Venezuela)
The next goal is to capture oil at sea, just like the Elliott Management-fund with an Argentinian ship in 2012 after he has court judgment in the US. UU., For unpaid debts. According to reports [Venezuela9003]Venezuela moves oil shipments into safe havens, including those of Cuba, to avoid such risks.
The change in the strategy of the creditors is a demonstration of violence by the private sector against the Nicolás Maduro regime which owes debt payments for US $ 5,700 million.
(Read: Citgo threatens to bring bankruptcy closer to Venezuela)
Although Maduro survived an assassination attempt this month and is still struggling with an economy ruined by hyperinflation, while facing a series of sanctions by the US. The United States, Europe, Canada and the countries of Latin America seem to have strengthened their political control over the country.
The most recent victory for creditors came last week when Canadian mining company Crystallex won a battle. key in his attempt to force Venezuela to pay $ 1,400 million as compensation for the expropriation of a project.
(Read: Conoco to the jewel in the crown of Venezuela: Citgo)
An American judge accepted Crystallex's argument that PDVSA has a & # 39; alter ego & # 39; of the state and that the mining company therefore has the right to confiscate the assets of PDVSA in the US. UU. The statement could serve as a precedent.
"This statement is undeniably negative for Venezuela, because of the loss of an asset of great value," said Francisco Rodríguez, principal economist at Torino Capital, a US investment bank. He added that "in all likelihood" the ruling would encourage "creditors to attempt to pursue the assets of PDVSA".
ConocoPhillips has already done so. In April, after winning an arbitration prize of $ 2 billion against PDVSA at the International Chamber of Commerce, the large oil company seized the assets of the company in the Caribbean.
As a result, PDVSA did not have access to facilities that account for almost one fourth quarter of Venezuela's oil exports. To avoid the risk of seizure of other assets, the company has asked its customers to load the oil from its anchored ships that serve as floating storage units.
Conoco & # 39; s struggle for repayment is clear, however. comparison with Crystallex, in which the PDVSA, rival bond holders and the Russian oil group Rosneft are confronted.
Two years ago, half of Citgo was pledged as collateral for more than US $ 3 billion in bonds. The other half, as collateral for a Rosneft loan of US $ 1,500 million. Since Citgo is worth about US $ 4 billion, it has little residual value to fulfill the claim of Crystallex, of US $ 1,400 million.
Such complications imply that although the sentences of Crystallex and Conoco are important, it is unlikely to result in an immediate large looting of other PDVSA assets. "The Crystallex statement does not mean that all bond holders can automatically assume that the assets are available to them," says Richard Cooper, senior partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, a law firm in New York.
Venezuela, which owes US $ 31 billion in government bonds and USD 28 billion in PDVSA bonds, also owes billions of dollars to China and Russia, but the only currency generation industry. ; s is in a steep decline. Oil production fell below 1.3 million barrels per day, to 1947 levels, according to Caracas Capital, a boutique investment bank.
Gideon Long and John Paul Rathbone