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VENEZUELAN OIL THREAT – DEJA VU, ALL OVER AGAIN

By       Message Brock Novak     Permalink
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Alternate Title: U.S. National Security: Terminate/Ban Venezuelan Oil Imports - TODAY 

As predictable as Johnny Weissmuller choosing a loin cloth over a speedo, Mr. Hugo Chavez has once again this past week in traditional "Tarzanian-like", chest pounding style, swung onto the world stage. On second thought, comparing him to Tarzan is completely inappropriate and entirely disrespectful to Tarzan. Instead, his entrée more aptly characterized as swinging in ala George of the Jungle "watch out for that tree" fashion. Apologies Johnny.

This time directing his latest trumped up, fiery tirade at Exxon Mobil, coupled with the usual, hollow "cut off all oil exports to the U.S." bluffing rant. 
 

Failing in his (first) President for Life Referendum attempt on Dec. 2, 2007, Mr. Chavez then and to the considerable relief of any rational and sensible individual, seemingly disappeared from the 6 o'clock news. The problem however, a return was inevitable given his ego driven love affair with the camera and penchant to do and say whatever it takes to get back in front of it. Thus, his re-emergence from paparazzi truancy. 

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Noteworthy is Exxon, who stood up (alone) against a widely reported effort by the Chavez regime to nationalize (is expropriation next on the horizon?), Exxon’s Cerro Negro Project assets, as well as the assets of other oil companies, all of whom, unlike Exxon, shied away from going toe to toe with Mr. Chavez. Giving even more credit to a determined, un-intimidated and unwavering Exxon, further stiffening its resolve and standing its ground even with Mr. Chavez’s escalation to stop oil shipments to the company. 

Analyst Note: To keep the reader focus in the specific article issue ballpark and not tangentially drifting off into the left or right field bleachers, let me kindly make two anchoring comments before proceeding.  

But even before that, a quick random thought comes to mind. Rather than constructing future ballparks with just left and right field bleachers, how about creating a completely separate center “third” section called the "Progressive Bleachers", where the view of the entire field is clearer and the beer is deservedly free, and subsidized with ticket sales from the other two bleacher sections? Just a thought. 

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Anyway, sorry to momentarily drift off, and to be disciplined and responsibly consistent with my own request to readers, back to the issue at hand. 

First, for those with a pavlovian proclivity to knee jerk react with a canned oration to anything “big oil” company related, let me respectfully make very clear this article is NOT about exceeding Wall Street earnings expectations, or not. It’s “solely” about recent Venezuelan actions and U.S. national security…NOT corporate profits and NOT any other unrelated or derivative, pet reader issues. Period.  

Any reader with a passioned propensity to argue what is fair or not as respects corporate profits (or wanting to air other unrelated issues to the issue at hand), is encouraged to cease reading the article. Instead, if that’s their focus and it’s of that importance to them, they should consider responsibly stepping up and authoring their own “constructive” article on “that” (or whatever other) issue, which I’m sure all including this Analyst would welcome, find interesting and enjoy the read. The Analyst would politely suggest however, that article be balanced to also outline (in detail – using factual sources) the (pure) oil profit rewards Mr. Chavez reaps/enjoys versus what his constituents, the Venezuelan people, don’t. 

And to the other likely reactionary group who will “automatically” scream “anti-Chavez” with their own canned, glorified ”Chavez is (at worst) Mr. Wonderful” response/diatribe, the article is anything but. Mr. Chavez could resign today, change his name to Hugo Gomez and start a software development company, etc., for all this or any other Analyst cares. He’d then be objectively assessed and evaluated not on what he says, but rather on the “facts”, as would anyone; based on “actual” behavior, performance and results in that new leadership position, the same as he is now in his role as President of Venezuela.

If he was prudently and constructively successful as that new corporate entity’s leader and true to his new company employees, customers and shareholders, this Analyst would be the very first to applaud the career change and renaissance behavior turnaround – IN WRITING. The same as he’d promptly credit Mr. Chavez now with any sincere, substantive, sustainable, constructive behavioral transformation as Venezuelan President – IN WRITING 

Bottom line, everyone makes mistakes. The good ones step up, acknowledge and correct them. Indeed most will agree, the more direct and efficient path to “forgive and forget”, and ultimate “constructive reconciliation/recognition”. 

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Since that behavior transformation is not apparent at publishing time, the article moves forward accordingly, based on the plethora of referenced behavior/result facts to date. 

This analysis therefore objectively assesses and critiques the behavior and performance exhibited and achieved to date in that powerful and intensely scrutinized President position. The sources quoted and referenced are purposely many and just that – facts. Anyone challenging their validity, need equally responsibly bring their dispute to the BBC, Reuters, Wikipedia, Bloomberg, the Banco Federal (Caracas) Chief Economist (see below), and the litany of other sources the article is data sourced and fundamentally built upon.     

Exxon sought and won arbitration in the World Bank-affiliated International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSIT). A Feb. 13, 2008 BBC article notes “Exxon wants compensation following the nationalisation of a project in Venezuela's largest oil reserve”. That resulted in up to $12 billion of PDVSA's (Venezuela state owned oil company – commonly pronounced Ped-uh-vay-suh) assets being frozen in foreign accounts in Britain, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles. This on the heels of a similar Dec. 2007 legal win in U.S. District Court freezing another $300 million in PDVSA assets.   

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