CARACAS – It is no secret that Venezuela has been going through a severe fuel supply crisis for quite some time as the oil sanctions from Washington continue to wreak havoc in the already battered oil-rich nation’s service stations featuring endless lines of vehicles.
That’s why two experts in the field have warned that Nicolás Maduro, the nation’s leftist leader, will have to turn to his Middle-East ally in order to avoid more sanctions and get the longed-for fuel, since most local refineries are either idle or completely inoperative.
José Guerra, an economist and opposition lawmaker, warned that the country may run out of the Iranian fuel soon after revealing that 70% of subsidized gas stations and 40% selling the fuel at international prices are already closed.
Guerra told VOA in an interview that it is “evident” that the administration of Maduro will have to resort to gas imports in order to supply the national market with fuel and it will be (probably) done through an oil-for-fuel exchange program with Teheran or India. Bringing gas from so far away will be more expensive for the country, since shipping costs and an insurance for 21 days (about 8,450 miles) at sea must be paid. “That will increase fuel costs at least by 10%, which are approximately 20% more expensive than oil,” he said.
Likewise, local economist Leonardo Buniak goes along with Guerra in saying that the Maduro government may be using the gold reserves from the central bank if it doesn’t have enough cash resources to pay for the fuel.
Buniak argued that the Iranians have a greater geoeconomic interest than just a geopolitical advantage, because they have the possibility of monetary gold when it comes to dealing with international markets via barter system and do their own business, for which Venezuela and Iran is a win-win relationship “by selling us the fuel and giving them gold in return.”
“Iran is Venezuela’s greatest partner in this regard, because Russia’s Rosneft is not doing it anymore in order to avoid those sanctions,” he added.