Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA will have to import at least six shipments of gasoline and other refined petroleum products to meet local demand due to production stoppages at key local refineries. Reports from local sources at Venezuela’s largest national refineries, Amuay and Cardón, on the Paraguaná peninsula, indicate that technical problems coupled with scheduled maintenance-related stoppages have paralyzed output and contributed to supply shortages to the local market.
Gasoline in Venezuela is the cheapest in the world, costing around $.04 per liter. This most recent news comes amid reports that President Chávez and his economic cabinet are considering a hike in gas prices, which have remained unchanged in recent years despite the region’s highest inflation in other sectors of the economy. Reports also indicate that the government has begun restricting gasoline sales to Colombian motorists who cross the border to fill their tanks.
The last time the Venezuelan government proposed raising gasoline prices, in 1989 during the administration of then-President Carlos Andrés Pérez, it triggered a series of bloody protests in Caracas that ultimately caused the death of up to 3,000 people.