Since 2003 after the oil strike, the magnitude of Venezuela’s oil production has been quite controversial, with PDVSA insisting that it produces over 3 million barrels of oil a day and both OPEC and AIE reporting numbers around 20-30% below these levels.
You can argue forever about oil production, mor so if PDVSA does not give much details.
But it it is difficult to create or miscount oil drilling rigs. They are big, there are no more than 3,000 around the world and everyone knows who makes them, sells them or leases them.
In fact, Baker Hughes, an oil service company in the US keeps track of oil drilling rigs around the world. The number of oil drilling rigs in Venezuela given out by Baker Hughes in the last three or four years has disagreed with the official number of PDVSA, which PDVSA has always explained away by saying that Baker Hughes only counts private rigs and that PDVSA has its own. Baker Hughes makes no such differentiation and their only caveats as to their rig count is that they do not count inner Russia and China.
But today’s El Mundo (Which has become a business newspaper and is getting quite good, but needs a subscription on the Internet) compares PDVSA’s “official” rig count with that of OPEC and comes up with this graph:
As you can see, in the last few years, there are huge differences in the number of working oil rigs in Venezuela reported by OPEC and the last few years the difference has become simply huge, with PDVSA saying today that it has 150 active drilling rigs versus the 57 that OPEC reports.
And OPEC has no reason to lie, in fact, Venezuela is one of the most prominent members of OPEC, if the numbers were so far off, you would think Venezuela would complain and the number would be checked. Venezuela could even supply information if needed.
Thus, one has to assume bad faith or incompetence. Either PDVSA leaders are faking the data to attempt to continue to fool the world (few people believe them) or we have to ask the old question: How many “rojo-rojitos” PDVSA workers does it take to count one hundred drilling rigs, after all, PDVSA ahora es de todos (belongs to all of us).
The truth is that if PDVSA had that many active oil rigs, an all-time high in Venezuela, production should be going up steadily, instead PDVSA reports the same production, while OPEC and IEA report small drops almost yearly.
Ramirez thinks he can fool all of us, but the more you lie and fake numbers, the more they become unsustainable. And this one is simply unsustainable.