Venezuelans Loyal To Former President Hugo Chavez Mark One Year Anniversary Of His Death

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrives for a parade marking the first anniversary of Hugo Chavez’ death on March 5, 2014 in Caracas, Venezuela.

Times are changing and Opec is not what it once was in terms of oil price influence, but it’s too soon to completely dismiss the producer group that collectively controls such a large share of the world’s oil production, reserves, exports and thus supply. In this article, a Saudi diplomat argues his country “gets it” while others – inside and outside Opec – do not. There are also some interesting reader comments. “Inevitably, the Saudi decision shows that Opec is becoming increasingly irrelevant as a force in the global oil market. Further, the Opec and non-Opec members that have no room to increase their exports and lack the political will and financial means to cut production — Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Russia, Mexico and Nigeria — will become mere passive spectators in this new era.” [Financial Times]

News broke yesterday of US rapprochement with Cuba and some suggest the deteriorating situation in Venezuela could be part of the reason. As part of the improving diplomatic relations, Americans will be able to legally bring home up to $100 worth of coveted Cuban cigars and companies will have more freedom to operate inside Cuba. However, the article makes no mention of the potential for oil and gas companies to explore offshore where significant resources are believed to exist. “You only need to look at the economic disaster that is Venezuela and clearly it’s a bad bet to have all your chips in one basket,” Christopher Sabatini, policy director at Council of the Americas, said in phone interview from New York. “That 100,000 barrels per day gift of oil is going to end very soon.” [Bloomberg]

New York may have put the kibosh on the controversial unconventional well completion method called hydraulic fracturing, but Egypt is hoping the technology can help rescue it from the grips of an energy crisis where increasing gas and power consumption are colliding with declining gas production. “The ministry said in a statement that the deal to drill three wells in the Abu al-Ghardeeq region of the Western Desert, about 200 km west of Cairo, was Egypt’s first contract for the production of unconventional gas. The head of Egypt’s state oil company (EGPC) signed the deal with a senior executive of Houston-based Apache Corporation and the chairman of Shell Egypt, a subsidiary of Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell.” [Reuters]