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商业 - 能源

查韦斯之死救不了委内瑞拉石油业

Cyrus Sanati 2013年03月08日

委内瑞拉拥有全球最大的石油储量,足够满足全球十年的需求。但是,乌戈•查韦斯当政时期蛮横地投资政策抹黑了委内瑞拉作为全球最大石油供应国之一的信誉。现在,尽管查韦斯已经逝世,但是要想重振委内瑞拉的石油业,查韦斯的继任者需要大刀阔斧地改革,才能重新赢得各国投资者的信任。

    委内瑞拉能源产业机能失调,总统乌戈•查韦斯之死并不是能让它起死回生的灵丹妙药。不稳定的政治和经济局势可能依旧会让外国投资者裹足不前,无法完全承诺提供有效利用该国石油宝藏所亟需的金钱、资源和专业技术。委内瑞拉的政策、结构和官僚主义令在该国投资成为一场危险而愚蠢的游戏,因此,无论是谁将接掌国家政权,都需要就此展开全面改革。

    毫不夸张地说,本周二乌戈•查韦斯之死震动了能源产业。十几年来,这个“玻利瓦尔主义”的强人都是石油业的最大恶棍。在委内瑞拉的总统任期内,查韦斯不仅撕毁合约,没收埃克森美孚(ExxonMobil)和康菲石油公司(ConocoPhillips)等国外石油公司的用地和设备;还设法压榨了国内的委内瑞拉石油公司(Petróleos de Venezuela),把它作为实施其所谓“21世纪社会主义”实验的项目和政策的金库。

    曾几何时,委内瑞拉被视作自由主义的堡垒,这里是所谓能源诅咒——即石油财富必将导致腐败和政权独裁的推断——的一个例外。民主选举的政府尽管远未尽善尽美,却比其他盛产石油的国家(比如中东的产油国)更加稳固。这种政治上的稳定吸引了全球的投资者,尤其是康菲石油公司和雪佛龙公司(Chevron)这样的美国石油巨头。

    到了20世纪90年代,委内瑞拉石油公司和当时国外几乎所有的欧美石油巨头合作,每天从委内瑞拉的油田中抽取约300万桶石油,使委内瑞拉一跃成为石油输出国组织(OPEC)的第三大原油出口国。委内瑞拉石油公司的长远计划是逐渐增加开采量至每天800万桶,达到石油出口巨头俄罗斯和沙特阿拉伯的水平。

    但是查韦斯不称职的盗贼统治和腐败行为导致了委内瑞拉石油出口的下降。它的产量最终下降至每天240万桶,比14年前查韦斯接管政权时减少了25%。如果原因是因为委内瑞拉原油储量锐减,那倒情有可原,可是情况并非如此——绝非如此。实际上,石油输出国组织2010年证实委内瑞拉的奥里诺科河油带储有等同于3,000亿桶原油的沥青砂,足以在10年内满足当今世界的石油需求量。它意味着委内瑞拉拥有地球上最多的石油储量,超过了沙特阿拉伯的2,600亿桶储油。

    如今的油价比1998年查韦斯接任时高出10倍,人们可能会认为奥里诺科河油带遍布钻探设备,工人们正在如饥似渴地抽取这里丰富的石油财富。但显然,事实并未如此。查韦斯掌权期间,对国内石油业发起了一系列毁灭性的“改革”,最终让石油业元气大伤。他撕毁了前任政府签署的产量分成合同,强迫外国原油公司向国家上交更多利润。

    之后,查韦斯将委内瑞拉石油公司当成自己的提款机,拒绝提供公司扩大奥里诺科河勘探规模的必要投资资本。2011年,委内瑞拉石油公司被压榨到只剩110亿美元,即总收入的9%,用于投入将来的运营。这点钱仅能维持基本运作,更不用说满足钻探需要。与之相反,墨西哥的Pemex国有石油公司(以及极度官僚的政府)花费了190亿美元,即17%的收入用于运营。而巴西石油公司(Petrobras)在这方面的投入则是420亿美元,占全部收入的29%。

    委内瑞拉石油公司称,到2015年对奥里诺科河的投资将达到约1,400亿美元。考虑到吸血鬼一般的政府,很难想象怎么达到这个目标。查韦斯一月份命令委内瑞拉石油公司增加对他不入账的国家发展基金(Fonden)的贿金,以支持他的“革命”,此举导致公司财力愈加枯竭。最终,政府致使公司背上了350亿美元的债务,同时附带沉重的利息,而这只会加剧公司的财政负担。

    但是,对委内瑞拉石油投资的致命打击则可能发生在2007年查韦斯将石油业“重新收归国有”时。他把大量(再次)拒绝重新就合约进行谈判的国外石油公司赶出国境,也就是自20世纪90年代早期起就分别在这个国家投资了数十亿美元的埃克森美孚和康菲石油公司。

    

    The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is no panacea for the nation's dysfunctional energy industry. Political and economic uncertainty will likely continue to deter foreign investors from fully committing the necessary cash, resources, and expertise that are desperately needed to effectively tap the nation's oil wealth. Whoever takes over the reins of the nation will need to dismantle the policies, structures, and rhetoric that have made investing in Venezuela a fool's errand.

    It is not hyperbole to say that Hugo Chavez's death Tuesday rocked the energy industry. The "Bolivarian" strongman has been the oil industry's biggest villain for over a decade. In his tenure as president of Venezuela, Chavez not only trashed contracts and expropriated lands and equipment from foreign oil companies, like ExxonMobil (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP); he also managed to crush the national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), by using it as a piggy bank to fund the programs and policies associated with his nebulously defined "21stCentury Socialism" experiment.

    There was a time when Venezuela was seen as a bastion of liberalism -- an exception to the so-called resource curse, which posits that oil wealth fosters corrupt and dictatorial regimes. Its democratically-elected governments, while far from perfect, were seen as more stable than other oil-rich nations, such as those in the Middle East. This stability attracted foreign investors from around the globe, especially U.S. oil giants like ConocoPhillips and Chevron (CVX).

    By the 1990s PDVSA and its foreign partners, which at the time included pretty much all the big U.S. and European oil giants, were pumping around three million barrels a day of oil from Venezuelan fields, making it the third-largest oil exporter in OPEC. PDVSA's long-term plan was to gradually increase its production capacity to around eight million barrels a day, which would have put Venezuela on par with oil exporting giants like Russia and Saudi Arabia.

    But the ineptitude and corruption of the Chavez kleptocracy have contributed to a decline in overall Venezuelan oil output, which at last count came in at 2.4 million barrels a day, 25% less than what it was when Chavez took power 14 years ago. That would have been excusable if Venezuela's oil reserves were rapidly depleting, but that isn't the case -- not by a long shot. Indeed, in 2010, OPEC confirmed that Venezuela's Orinoco oil belt contained tar sand deposits equivalent to around 300 billion barrels of oil, enough to fulfill current world demand for 10 years. That would mean Venezuela would have the largest oil reserves on the planet, outstripping Saudi Arabia's 260 billion barrel oil stash.

    With today's oil price being 10 times higher than where it was when Chavez took power in 1998, one would surmise that the Orinoco oil belt today would be littered with equipment and workers trying furiously to tap its abundant oil wealth. But, of course, that isn't the case. During his reign, Chavez instituted a series of devastating "reforms" to the nation's oil industry, which ended up breaking its back. He ripped up production sharing contracts signed under the previous government, forcing foreign oil companies to hand over more of their profit to the state.

    Chavez then used PDVSA as his own personal ATM, starving the company of the necessary investment capital needed to expand its operations in the Orinoco. In 2011, PDVSA was left with just $11 billion, or 9%, of its total income, to fund future operations. That was barely enough to keep the lights on, let alone go out and enough to drill. By contrast, Pemex, Mexico's state owned-oil company (and all-around bureaucratic basket case), spent around $19 billion, or 17%, of its income on operations, while Brazil's Petrobras invested $42 billion, or 29%, of its income.

    PDVSA says it will be investing some $140 billion in the Orinoco by 2015. It is hard to see how that can happen given how much the government is siphoning off. In January, Chavez ordered PDVSA to increase its payments to his off-the-books slush fund, Fonden, which is used to support the "revolution," further draining its resources. Lastly, the government has saddled PDVSA with around $35 billion in debt, slapping the company with fat interest payments, which will only augment its money woes.

    But probably the fatal blow to Venezuelan oil investment came in 2007 when Chavez essentially "renationalized" the industry, booting out a number of foreign oil companies who refused to (once again) renegotiate their contracts, namely U.S. oil giants ExxonMobil and ConocoPhilips, which had each invested billions of dollars in the country since the early 1990s.

    

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