What will Venezuela do with its oil? Top five energy challenges after Chàvez.

With the passing of Hugo Chávez, the issue of what Venezuela chooses to do with its oil moves to center stage for the energy industry – and for environmentalists. Here are five energy challenges that Venezuela will have to face.

4. Oil bartering

Inti Ocon/Retuers/File
A street vendor pushes his cart past a mural depicting, from right, Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez (C), Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro and Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega (L), in Managua March 6, 2013. Chávez didn't use oil simply as an economic tool; he used it to prop up governments and score political points.

Chávez didn't use oil simply as an economic tool; he used it to prop up governments and score political points. In 2011, for example, Venezuela received 344,000 metric tons of food in exchange for oil – rice from Guyana; coffee from El Salvador; sugar, coffee, meat, and more from Nicaragua; beans and pasta from the Dominican Republic. Venezuela has refined oil for Ecuador at discount prices, sent diesel to Syria, and struck a deal to sell Cuba discounted oil in exchange for medical treatment for Venezuelans. These efforts helped prop up governments that Chávez favored.

In 2005, he offered to send emergency supplies to American victims of Hurricane Katrina. Through Citgo, a PDVSA subsidiary, he gave away heating oil to several hundred thousand poor Americans for several years running.

In last year's presidential campaign, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles promised to put an end to such gifts. He was handily defeated. But such foreign aid is expensive and increasingly difficult to justify at a time when Venezuela's own economy is struggling with rampant inflation and increasingly severe electricity blackouts.

4 of 5

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.