If you’re looking for even lower gas prices this Christmas season, you’re likely to find them all over the United States. But the deals here are nowhere near as good as you’ll find on the black market in Venezuela, where gas sells for less than a penny per gallon. That must be great, huh? Well, it probably would be if it weren’t for one problem. They’re running out of gasoline in that country quickly, and it’s because the collapsing nation’s economy and constant risks of violence have made it nearly impossible to keep crews working on their remaining operational oil tankers. (Bloomberg)
Petroleos de Venezuela SA’s refineries are running at less than a quarter of their capacity, forcing the country to rely on imported gasoline. Once the cargoes are unloaded at import docks, smaller ships distribute fuel to terminals along the coast, where its loaded on trucks to refuel inland stations. But as Venezuelan tankers lose engineers and helmsmen, delivery delays are becoming increasingly frequent, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
Gasoline lines are one of the challenges of daily life in Venezuela, along with the scarcity of basic goods, regular power outages and a lack of public transport. Gas prices are still the among the cheapest in the world, with the black market rate earlier this month less than one cent per gallon. Maduro has yet to increase prices after vowing to do so at the end of September.
This may seem like a minor piece of the larger tragedy engulfing Venezuela, but it’s a particularly telling one. Stop and think for a moment about what’s being reported in that article. Venezuelans are going to the gas station (at least the few left who can afford to operate a vehicle) and finding out they have a gas shortage. We’re talking about Venezuela. Right up to the present day, they’re sitting on the largest proven crude oil reserve on the planet. Up until just a few years ago, not only was gasoline available everywhere, it literally cost less to buy there than bottled water. And now there are stations with empty tanks.
The government of Nicolas Maduro looted his nation’s oil and gas industry until it collapsed. The output of their refineries hovers below 25% capacity. They don’t pay their bills, so other countries are hesitant to take on or offload oil and gas supplies unless someone pays them cash. (In a currency other than the Bolivar.) Piracy, violence and corruption plague maritime business so they are unable to keep crews on some of the remaining tankers.
These are the wages of socialism taken to their unfortunate but virtually inevitable conclusion. Members of the ruling socialist party do well enough for themselves, but their greed and corruption have bled the country dry. People fight over spoiled meat in the few markets where there’s any meat to be found. Mothers give their babies up in the hope that someone will feed them. Keep all this in mind next time you hear someone talking about being tempted by the promises of Bernie Sanders and all of the new breed of socialists here in the United States.