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lunes, 11 de enero de 2016


De: Gustavo Coronel []
Enviado el: sábado, 09 de enero de 2016 07:30 a.m.
Asunto: FW: 40 years of Petroleos de Venezuela

Sábado, 9 de Enero, 2016

40 Years of Petróleos de Venezuela
January 2016 By Gustavo Coronel
Gustavo Coronel, is one of the pioneer explorationists in Venezuela

The idea of nationalizing Venezuela’s oil industry had been in the wind for a few years leading up to 1976, and conditions in the global oil market lent considerable momentum to the popularity of the proposal. Weighed in the balance of 40 years of hindsight, though, nationalization has proven to be nothing short of tragic for the nation’s oil and gas sector.
The Road to Nationalization
Meeting in Caracas in December 1970, OPEC decided to cut oil production as necessary to defend oil prices.
Pressure for national control of the oil industry in producing countries increased to such an extent that, by early 1972, an editorial in the Washington Post warned U.S. readers about Venezuela’s preparations for a takeover of its petroleum assets.
In 1973, OPEC took a more dramatic step of actually cutting oil production to put pressure on Israel to retreat from occupied Arab territories. In addition, it posted a 70-percent increase in oil prices and imposed an embargo on oil exports to countries that were friends of Israel.
This geopolitical upheaval coincided with the landslide electoral win of Venezuelan presidential candidate Carlos Andrés Pérez, who had promised to nationalize the Venezuelan oil industry. After taking power in December 1973, he promoted an intense debate over the pros and cons of the idea.
At this point in time, and thanks to a combination of laws and government decrees, Venezuela was obtaining a very large percentage of the oil industry income without any risks, since all investments were the responsibility of the foreign oil companies acting as concessionaires.
Nevertheless, investments were very low, due to the political uncertainty surrounding the future course of the industry. At the end, however, the decision to take over the Venezuelan oil industry was driven more by political considerations than economic factors. Venezuelan leaders believed complete ownership of the oil industry was essential if the country wanted to enjoy true sovereignty over its petroleum resources.
As this political drama was developing, I was a middle manager working for Shell Venezuela.
For many years Venezuelan oil industry managers and technical staff had been a highly disciplined group who did their jobs efficiently, without getting involved in the country’s political give and take. But this time we felt it was different. The decision to nationalize the oil industry was a matter of the most critical national importance since oil accounted for almost all of our national income. We felt, as Peter Drucker once said about strategy, that the country “not only had to do the right thing but had to do it right.”
One morning in 1974, over a cup of coffee with my colleagues Odoardo León Ponte and Marcos Marín Marcano, we concluded that we had to participate in the debate. We knew more than the politicians did about the technical, operational, managerial and financial challenges involved in nationalizing the industry. Why should we allow them alone to make decisions of such importance without our input?
Deciding to act, we rented a conference room for 30 people in the Caracas Tamanaco Hotel and sent out an invitation to our colleagues. Half an hour before the meeting we had about 500 people at the door, struggling to enter! The owner of the hotel, Rafael Tudela, showed up and decided to lend us the Ballroom at no extra cost. That night we formed AGROPET, the Association of Oil Industry Employees, to participate in the nationalization debate, and I was named president.
Predictably, the political sectors, from left to right, accused us of being a front for the foreign oil companies. We had to endure the most vicious attacks in which terms like “traitors” and “mercenaries” were among the kindest.
However, after only two weeks, the association had 1,100 registered members and had begun to participate in the debate. We went to the radio, to the press, to television to talk about a subject we knew well, often debating live with representatives of the political parties.
These debates quickly brought to the surface the validity of our arguments and culminated in an invitation from President Carlos Andrés Pérez to meet with us at the presidential palace. This meeting was attended by 400 oil industry managers and technicians and several of us made presentations to the president and his cabinet about the different issues we believed had to be faced in nationalizing the industry.
I believe this meeting represented a turning point in the nationalization process.
The political decision to nationalize had already been taken but the manner in which it finally took place was largely the product of our input to the highest levels of government.
Many of us felt that the decision to nationalize had not been the right one, but we had to do it right, at least. The political sector wanted a takeover without compensation to the foreign companies, and a nationalized industry operating with a total self-sufficiency that was impossible to attain. We knew there would have to be a transition in which the former concessionaires would continue to play a subordinate support role.
The Difference a Day Can Make
First and second Boards of PDVSA. Gustavo Coronel , second row, back of General R. Alfonzo Ravard. 
The day before nationalization – Dec. 31, 1975 – all was as it had always been. On Jan. 1, as if by magic, the names, logos and colors of the well-known international oil companies had been replaced by those of the new state companies.
In a decision that deviated from other examples of nationalization, the organizational model adopted by the Venezuelan state-owned oil industry was not that of a single state company, but a financial and coordinating holding company, Petróleos de Venezuela, and four integrated operating companies, which would allow the holding company to compare their relative efficiencies.
The company would be totally owned by the state, reporting to the Ministry of Petroleum as the representative of the shareholders and was designed, by law, to be a commercial enterprise.
In a surprising move for me, my family and almost everyone in the industry, I was chosen as a member of the first board of directors of Petróleos de Venezuela, PDVSA, doubtless as a result of having led the association of employees who participated in the debate.
During a presentation to the president, I had said that an essential prerequisite to become a member of the board of the new company was “not to be a politician.” This made the president laugh heartily and his ministers grimace. The president probably felt that naming me to the board would guarantee the new company would not become politicized.
When I notified Alberto Quirós, my company’s president, of my new job he told me: “Gustavo, congratulations and you are fired!” and proceeded to give me a big hug.
A few days later, when meeting with the new board for the first time, President Pérez said to us, “If you ever receive from me a request to employ anyone or assign a contract to anyone, do this …” and he threw a wrinkled piece of paper into the wastebasket.
Getting to Work
The new holding company and its operational affiliates had a tough job ahead: exploration was at a standstill, production levels were reasonable but needed to be increased, refineries were bordering obsolescence, plus technological and marketing contracts had to be negotiated and signed with former concessionaires.
And, to top it all, we had inherited 14 operating concessionaires that had to be fused into four integrated companies. This process of “rationalization” was not a simple elimination of some of the companies but involved a study of the existing operations and of the best potential synergies to be found among the different companies.
This task was to be supervised by a committee of the holding company and coordinated by one of the members of the board. I was chosen to coordinate this process, which proved to be very complex, as are all tasks that involve people.
We had 14 companies, some small, some medium-sized, some large and, predictably, each organization wanted to survive, which was not possible. We worked systematically, meeting with the top management of all the companies, listening to their arguments.
This was a very intense, emotional process, rich in personal and even political conflict but also in demonstrations of true professionalism and intellectual honesty. Our work, done in combination with international management consultants, clearly indicated there were three main companies into which the others should be incorporated: the original Exxon (Creole), now called Lagoven; the original Shell, now called Maraven; and the original Gulf, now called Meneven.
Combined, they accounted for about 85 percent of total oil production. Months of discussions and analyses finally concluded in the structuring of four main companies: Lagoven (the previous Exxon/Creole + Amoco); Maraven (the previous Shell + Phillips + Chevron + Sun Oil); Meneven (the previous Gulf + four smaller companies); and, finally, Corpoven, an amalgam of CVP, the original state oil company, plus the assets of Mobil, Texaco and Sinclair.
This type of organization allowed Venezuela to escape from the single state oil company model that had proven unsuccessful all over the world: in Indonesia, Argentina, Mexico, Nigeria, Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. It was more costly, yes, but it preserved the spirit of competition among the operating companies and allowed for comparison of relative efficiencies.
As one of the members of the board most up-to-date with operational facts, also known for having a gift for writing, I was chosen by the president of PDVSA, General Rafael Alfonzo Ravard, to write his speeches. He gave three or more speeches per week to the most diverse audiences and would give me the specific points he wanted to include in each, while the rest was essentially up to me. His main guidelines, which I would have to repeat as a mantra in every speech, were about PDVSA’s need to always:
§  Have professional management.
§  Be free from politicization.
§  Enjoy financial self-sufficiency.
§  Keep normal, uninterrupted operations.
§  Possess a meritocratic organization.
He would tell me, “Gustavo, these are the main concepts we have to hammer into the political minds if we want to win this fight.”
Coronel, with PDVSA's President Rafael Alfonzo Ravard in the cardon refinery, 1977

For almost a decade from 1976 the nationalized PDVSA won that fight. The company enjoyed the respect of the political world. It gained international credibility and improved in almost every aspect. Proven reserves increased. Production was kept at about 2.3 million barrels per day. The refineries underwent a dramatic transformation, from producing 62 percent of residual fuel oils to producing 65 percent of gasoline and distillates, while accepting a diet of heavier oils. International marketing was progressively done in-house.
In 1977 I was temporarily assigned as general manager of the Cardón Refinery, to start planning for the change in the refining pattern of this plant. This task required complicated logistics and additional human resources since we did not have enough engineers in the country. I sent a team to India where we recruited a group of (mostly) excellent professionals who helped us during this stage.
By 1986 the job in the four big Venezuelan refineries had been essentially completed.
The End of the Honeymoon
At first imperceptibly, later in a more pronounced manner, the honeymoon between PDVSA and the political sector weakened.
As the government grew familiar with the operations of the industry, they started to see real or imaginary warts in PDVSA’s face. Increasing friction appeared between the company and the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum since the ministry staff wanted to assert their authority at operational and planning levels and had never been quite satisfied with letting the managers trained by the multinationals do the job.
Many influential members of the political sector felt that Venezuelan managers, trained by the multinationals, were not patriotic enough.
In 1979, the Venezuelan Society of Engineers demanded the Venezuelan oil industry employ “all newly graduated engineers” to replace the technical assistance contracted with the former concessionaires.
Also that year, the naming of the new board of PDVSA had a political flavor not present before. The board would now be replaced every two years, increasing the tendency to politicize the organization. From then on the government would have the final decision about the size and contents of the budget of the company and could assign responsibilities to members of the board – clear signs of political interference.
Hugo Pérez La Salvia, the new minister of Energy and Petroleum, said, “With the advent of nationalization we inherited the management of the multinationals and I think these managers already had a mentality derived from their work with the concessionaires. This situation must change!”
Although PDVSA would still work in an acceptable manner for some more years, the changes represented the “writing on the wall” for the nationalized oil industry. Instead of public administration adopting the good habits brought by professional management to public business, the bad habits of public bureaucracy began to invade the oil industry.
For me and many of my colleagues, this was the end of a dream. As we had feared when the decision to nationalize was taken, keeping the oil industry free from politicization was impossible.
Today, 40 years after nationalization took place, Petróleos de Venezuela has been run into the ground. The government that came in power in 1999 ended all pretenses of autonomy for PDVSA. Oil income started being diverted into the hands of the executive without providing PDVSA the required funds for reinvestment and proper maintenance.
The company was redefined as a social company in charge of multiple activities that had little to do with oil, such as importing and distributing subsidized food. Production levels went down about 600,000 barrels per day as compared to 1998 levels. The number of employees quintupled. Company debt went from $2 billion in 1998 to about $70 billion today.
Currently refineries are running at 65 percent capacity. Much of the oil exported is going into the hands of ideologically-friendly governments at non-commercial prices. Worst of all, the ratio of production to proven reserves is the lowest among all oil producing countries.
In particular, the huge deposits of heavy oil in the Orinoco Belt area have remained essentially undeveloped for the last 16 years while the most capable foreign companies have left the country.
The negative results of nationalization have been seen in other countries as illustrated by the examples of Pertamina in Indonesia, PEMEX in Mexico, YPF in Argentina and PETROBRAS in Brazil. But the case of PDVSA is, in my opinion, the most tragic illustration of what can happen to a nationalized oil industry.
I knew all along that, in 1976, Venezuela made a wrong decision but, together with a large group of professional managers, did my best to implement it well. We nationalized all the risks for the sake of nationalistic pride.
It could have ended differently, but … we are not Norwegian!

Publicado por Gustavo Coronel en 4:03 



Además de lo que dije en mi correo, te quiero añadir algo, los geólogos han sido la clave del éxito de la industria petrolera, lo supe cuando trabaje en Ing. de yacimientos en San Tome, pues ellos llevan los mapas de los yacimientos al día, (me pregunto como estaran estos mapas hoy dia?)ellos son los que indican que tal arena en tal pozo puede ser productiva, pues ellos conocen de eso mucho, también, los q trabajan en exploración y no en Ing. de yacimientos son los que dicen donde debe perforarse un pozo exploratorio con posibilidades de éxito, nosotros los ingenieros de yacimientos, entrenados casi todos en Penn State, en su famoso curso para ingenieros de yacimientos, cuando veiamos un yacimiento grande y con buena produccion y crudo de calidad, buscabamos los analisis del laboratorio sobre las caracteristicas del crudo, y se hacian otros analisis, como la toma de nucleos para estudios de porosidad y permeablidad, etc. especialmente si era condensado, y desde alli arrancabamos a hacer estudios de ing de yacimientos con una calculadora Fridden y unas tablas, donde ibamos plasmando, a mano,  todos los datos q habiamos conseguido de los analisis del crudo y de las pruebas de los pozos, etc. pues asi se determinaba mediante un estudio de analisis economico de algun proyecto de inyeccion de gas o agua, cual era la rentabilidad, y muy a menudo encontrabamos que los yacimientos eran rentables y se proponia a la empresa la ejecucion del proyecto, que lo llevaba a caba la superintendencia de produccion, y asi se terminaba con una nueva planta de inyeccion de gas o agua, en un yacimiento en el que se iba a aumentar la recuperacion del petroleo in situ, en mucho. por cierto que en la faja nunca vimos mas de un 9% de recuperacion, y eso que alli tuvimos un proyecto de inyeccion de aire, combustion in situ,  para la maxima recuperacion del petroleo pesado, pero no fue exitosa y sobre todo porque lo que quedaba en el yacimiento era puro carbon del petroleo quemado, no recuperable jamas. 
total que estos estudios los llevabamos MEM y alli se dicutia con excelentes ingenieros que tenia el MEM en san tome, recuerdo a Benito luongo, Rafael Macias, Francisco Guedez, Hector Rivero, Rafael Sandrea, etc. pues ellos evaluaban nuestros poryectos y los aprobaban, o sea el MEM tenia una injerencia muy grande en la industria, a nivel tecnico, que hasta nos cerraba yacimientos completos para que iniciaramos estudios de inyeccion para recuperacion adicional, al final terminamos con recuperacion terciaria, etc. total, que en una nueva area, comenzo un buen cuento que te lo doy a continuacion, 
y así hay un cuento del área Furrial/Musipan, que es una historia interesante, los geólogos de Mene Grande, empresa que tuvo el primer presidente venezolano, el Dr. Luis Alcalá Sucre y de vicepresidente otro venezolano Bernardo Díaz  Lyon, ambos guiaron a Mene Grande, y no se les da el crédito que se merecen, te hablo de los años 1963, 64, 65, época en la q me enviaron a  Caracas a reemplazar a Juan Chacin que era el único de Operaciones, o más bien geólogo, en Caracas, pues todo el personal de operaciones  estaba en el interior del país, donde debían estar. Esta era una de esas prácticas q permitían que la empresa tuviera costos tan bajos, los más bajos de todas las petroleras en Venezuela.
 Ahora bien, regresando a los geólogos, y las areas de Furrial y Musipan, te diré que ellos decían que en la zona de Sta. Bárbara, Pirital, Punta de Mata, etc. Donde operaban Texaco, Sinclair y Mene Grande,(en la zona había tres campos de viviendas, dos aeropuertos, y mucha actividad para producir las arenas superficiales, que solo producían entre las tres compañías unos 4000 b/d, con un campo excepcional que producía un crudo q al refinarlo daba un diesel ártico muy bien pagado por los compradores, el campo Tacat, ninguna de las empresas en Oriente, Mobil, Texaco, Sinclair, etc.  tenia oleoductos, nosotros en Mene Grande y Meneven les transportábamos todo el crudo hasta PLC y Guanta, para Sinclair. ), en las areas de Musipan/Furrial había mucho petróleo debajo de una lutita expansiva, gigante de unos 4000 pies de espesor, pero la gente de perforación no podía pasar de la lutita pues esta se expandía con el lodo de perforación que era con base de agua continua y eso hacia q las lutitas se expandieran y atascaban las tuberías de perforación, y había muchas veces q abandonar la perforación sin lograr los objetivos, total q fue Lagoven que venía perforando pozos exploratorios dsd Maturín hacia Santa Bárbara, la que encontró las arenas productoras q mencionaban los geólogos, simultáneamente Meneven  descubrió también estas arenas productoras en la misma zona pero mas al oeste, usando un lodo de aceite como base continua por lo que las lutitas no se expandian y permitian el paso de la tuberia de perforacion, ahora antes se había tratado de llegar a esas arenas y tan grande fue la expectativa de generar mas producción q Mene Grande, adelantandose a los niveles de produccion futura,  construyo una tubería de 16 pulg. hasta Puerto la Cruz, y un patio de tanques inmenso en Travieso, cercano a Santa Bárbara, y nunca se uso completo, muy sobre dimensionado,  hasta que estas arenas debajo de la lutita expansiva produjeron aquellos tremendos pozos de 5000 b/d o mas en algunos casos, cada uno y mas, a altas presiones, que se utilizo y hubo q ampliar todas las instalaciones, también Mene grande construyo un campo obrero en Sta. Bárbara donde habían unas  casas que jamás se utilizaron, pues se quedaron esperando la producción que no se encontraba entonces. Por eso la importancia de los geólogos en la industria, es más te voy a contar mi propia experiencia con los geólogos, que siempre los considere  junto con los ing. de producción los mejores para dirigir empresas, pues por su naturaleza son más arriesgados, que por ejemplo los Ing. Químicos que vienen de manejar refinerías, pues estos son muy meticulosos en todas sus decisiones, se toman más tiempo y lo hacen así por la formación que han recibido en el manejo de las refinerías, me imagino que Coronel sufrió mucho cuando  manejo la refinería de cardón de Maraven, pues siendo geólogo seguro era más arriesgado que los demás, pero lo contenían.
Fíjate que esto es así, pues otro ejemplo, cuando Renato Urdaneta, Ing. Químico de refinación de Lagoven, manejo Meneven, era muy cauteloso, al punto que nos quejábamos que la cía. estaba atrasándose en algunas áreas, por no arriesgarse. Antes habíamos experimentado con Juan Chacin, geologo, como presidente que era mucho más agresivo en todo por su naturaleza de geólogo.
Espero haber contribuido en algo a la aclaración de muchos hechos de nuestra industria, que  los de las compañías mas grandes no veían pues ellos tenían más  posibilidades que nosotros de las empresas mas pequeñas.
Saludos, cordiales, Néstor G Ramírez


lo que no dice Coronel (ARTICULO PUBLICADO EN AAA EXPLORER.)y no lo dijo, creo yo,  por el ambiente en el que estaba.
aqui te va mi vision y experiencia, una parte:
La industria comenzo politizada ya, dsd el 1976, pues el presidente no era de la industria, era un paracaidista que llego, aunque tenia buena fama de ser un buen gerente de la CVG, igual q el vice presidente q era Julio Cesar Arreaza, politico adeco, o sea la política se incrusto sin hacer mucho aspavientos en la industria. y así lo hizo sucesivamente, y además Lagoven y Maraven tenían mucho q ver en las decisiones, las demás filiales estaban marginadas de PDVSA, o digamos casi ignoradas, con contadas excepciones, quizás ellas mismas se marginaron,
hay que tener en cuenta que Mene Grande tuvo el primer presidente venezolano. en toda la industria, Luis Alacala Sucre, y vice presidente Bernardo Diaz Lyon, mucho antes de la nacionalizacion en los anos 65, aprox. Bernardo Diaz  fue en una oportunidad jefe de Coronel, siendo Coronel vice presidente de Meneven. Bernardo se fue de la industria preocupado porque Pdvsa quería imponer gerentes q el no estaba de acuerdo y no le gusto lo que el veía venir.

En todas la directivas de pdvsa había siempre un tono de política, si bien es cierto que al principio era mas disimulado.

Lo que dice Coronel es muy cierto en cuanto a que mantener las filiales era lo mejor pues primero, se mantenían mas lejos de los políticos, y segundo existía la idea de la competencia entre todas por ser la mas eficiente, aunque siempre hubo un ventajismo de parte de las dos filiales mas grandes.
Carlos Andrés Perez tuvo la idea de tener siempre a presidentes q no fueran de la industria, Sosa Pietri, Gustavo Rosen, eso le daba mas poder a las filiales pues no tenían un interlocutor conocedor de la industria.
cuando en 1992 yo llegue al directorio de Pdvsa, era mas notorio el color político, pues eramos Arevalo Guzmán Reyes+, Jesus Alberto Lauria+, Cesar Pieve+ y yo los que veníamos casi por parte de AD. O muy allegados a AD. Celestino Armas estudio conmigo y fue muy amigo cuando estuvimos los dos en el liceo andres bello, y alli comenzo una excelente amistad, eso ,claro, me ayudo mucho a llegar al directorio, y yo le decia a los companeros que para llegar a la directiva habia que tener apoyo politico que sin el era casi imposilble llegar a director de pvdsa.
Los demás eran de la industria casi todos. Joaquin Tredenick, Reimpell, Alcock, Mario Rodriguez, Luis Giusti, Arnaldo Salazar Raffalli, eran solo de maraven y lagoven.
Y cuando llego Caldera2 a la presidencia, puso la torta muy grande pues nombro como presidentes y vice presidentes de PDVSA a los que eran VICE presidentes de las filiales y le paso por encima a los presidentes de las filiales. Y allí comezo la debacle de pdvsa. Ya nosotros en la JD anterior a giusti, habíamos comenzado con el otorgamiento de los campos marginales a operadores privados para que manejaran esos campos, y se tenia planificado la ida a la exploración con ganancias compartidas, etc.
Giusti otorgo hasta el campo Boscan como marginal a Chevron su antigua concesionaria, y ya esto dejo un mas sabor en muchos, y también privatizo las plantas de inyección de gas y de agua con cías. internacionales, también formo INTESA en sociedad con una empresa norteamericana para manejar todo lo de Cibernética, cosa que cayó muy mal entre muchos de nosotros. Total allí comenzo la divergencia muy grande con los políticos que propicio lo que hizo Chavez que nombro al ignorante y enemigo de la industria y político rajao como presidente de pdvsa, Gaston Parra Luzardo,  y eso enardeció a los gerentes y así comenzo el paro petrolero como lo llaman algunos, que fue una protesta por lo que estaba sucediendo en la industria, como el pase a jefes de los amigotes del grupo de Giusti, total que la industria siempre ha tenido su dosis de política, y fue igual cuando caldera 1, que nombro a Calderón Berti y este se llevo a los copeyanos de Gustavo Gabaldon y José Rafael Dominguez, Perez La Salvia, total como te dije siempre hubo una dosis de política en las directivas. las filiales se mantenían lejos de esto a propósito pues se había estudiado que era muy perjudicial unirlas, porque las servíamos en bandeja de plata al gobierno como sucedió después del Barquimetazo de Giusti q unió a todas las filiales y el gobierno, la politica, se apodero de todo, y allí estamos hoy, todos destruidos, al fin se realizo el temor que teníamos algunos cuando se nacionalizo la industria en el 1976, que era algo malo para todos, duro veinte anos,  pero no había como parar eso, pues ya venia dsd mucho tiempo concinandose.
te voy a anexar algo que pienso de los geólogos,  veré si lo puedo anexar pues esta laptop que uso es una msi chiquita y no  me da chance ni de revisar ortografía, menos acentos etc.
NGR Nestor G Ramirez