Venezuela’s regime has recently arrested oil workers or retired oil workers who have dared to expose the corruption and mismanagement at its state oil firm PDVSA and its dire financial, operational, and working conditions, Argus reports. Venezuela’s military intelligence and its national intelligence service Sebin have arrested in recent weeks two people, one of whom a retired PDVSA worker, who had openly criticized the dangerous working conditions and the corruption at the state oil firm, oil industry sources told Argus.
The retired PDVSA worker Guillermo Zarraga, who is also a union official, was arrested last Saturday by intelligence service Sebin and accused of terrorism over the explosion of a crude distillation unit at one Venezuelan refinery in late October. The unit at the Amuay refinery in northern Venezuela suffered a blast at the end of last month, and Nicolas Maduro—still clinging to power—has stated it was a terrorist attack with a “large and powerful weapon.”
PDVSA has been trying to boost processing rates at the Amuay refinery, as well as at the 305,000-bpd Cardon refinery, also in the area, to increase gasoline production amid a grave shortage.
This push to increase processing rates, according to one source who spoke to Argus at the time, may have been what led to the explosion. According to the source, the company was neglecting safety concerns as it raced to bring more processing capacity online.
Leaks about the state of neglect and dangerous conditions at PDVSA often end up in media outlets, which cite internal PDVSA sources, and now Maduro’s regime seems to be moving to silence the dissidents.
In one of the latest such reports, PDVSA sources told Reuters this week that PDVSA employees are ready to accept bribes not to report thefts of crude oil from idled oilfields as their meager salaries quickly evaporate with the hyperinflation. Venezuelans are stealing crude oil to process it at home to make gasoline amid severe fuel shortages in the country holding the world’s biggest oil reserves.