Isn't it about time Chevron pulled the pin on Maduro's Venezuela?

Big Oil has always had a reputation for propping up crappy little banana republics and tinpot regimes, and well, Chevron is squarely on the hot seat for that one these days.

See, it's literally the only thing left that's keeping Venezuela afloat, through its large investments in that country. If Chevron pulls out, the Maduro regime collapses. Now there's some question as to whether it ought to be following all the other oil majors and pulling out.

According to today's Wall Street Journal:

Chevron’s dilemma is both moral and commercial. The California-based giant long enjoyed close relations with the socialist regime that controls the world’s largest oil reserves, and has earned big money in Venezuela—about $2.8 billion between 2004 and 2014, according to cash-flow estimates by analytics firm GlobalData .

The company is aware a pullout could trigger a collapse of the government’s finances, because a significant chunk of its scarce hard currency comes from joint operations with Chevron.

Yet by staying in the country as its economic and humanitarian crises deepen, the company risks damage to its reputation by being seen as supporting an authoritarian regime sanctioned by the U.S. government. It also isn’t making much money here anymore.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, Chevron is pretty much the last investor left in Venezuela, and the only source left for hard currency. The country's money has melted down so badly in its one-million-plus inflation that it's down to using a fake cryptocurrency of no credibility whatsoever. But socialists being socialists, they save the best for themselves -- U.S. dollars -- and Chevron pays and deals in U.S. dollars. If Chevron pulls out, Maduro gets the meathook. See how important this oil giant is to the Chavista regime's capacity to stay afloat?

Which is why people are starting to wonder about these guys. Why is Chevron still propping up the Maduro regime when all the other guys have pulled out and sued the bastards for billions, yet Chevron is not making any money from it, which is a disservice to its shareholders. Worst of all, the money it's paying (for royalties, etc. for the privilege of extracting the oil) is solely going into the Maduro regime's coffers and it's the only thing propping the dictatorship up.

The Journal rightly notes that the company stands to lose goodwill for keeping its investments in the heinous Marxist regime, because it's otherwise unsustainable without them.

I understand that they don't want to crash the economy, which is what the Journal reports they are concerned about, but hasn't this economy already crashed, save for that handy income stream to Maduro? The Chevron cash makes him powerful and all the others, including the democracy campaigners, weak. I'd add that that's not just shareholders and the public here who are going to be disgusted as word of this gets out - it's Venezuelans. And there could easily be punishment for Chevron if they somehow get the upper hand despite Chevron's bankrolling role of the current regime. The opposition of Venezuela has already warned Goldman Sachs that if they dared lend money to Maduro, they'd better hope Maduro hangs on because they had no intention of repaying such bonds. Goldman backed away when that got out.

IsChevron, now famous for being the moneybags company of Maduro, really going to expect to be thought of nicely and treated nicely in such circumstances once the regime crumbles? I know that oil companies stay in dodgy regimes because setting up oil operations are so costly and long term to get off the ground. And, getting hold of real estate for oil extraction is very very important to these companies, so leaving might be painful. But they aren't making money there either, and that ought to priority one, which argues for the pullout.

The other thing worth considering is that Chevron really does have a big bank of goodwill for its moral courage in standing up to the rainforest shakedown mafia of Ecuador in recent years. Most oil companies would have paid these clowns to make them go away, beefing up green coffers considerably. Chevron drew the line there and made the world safe for global business, even for the little guys. Contracts are contracts, not shakedown instruments for Mia Farrow and Daryl Hannah to go grandstanding from in fake concern for the denizens of the rainforest, blaming the wrong company. Had Chevron not done that, had it not stood up and said no to the shakedown racket, the world would have been a much lousier place.

Now they seem to be throwing all of that moral capital and goodwill away as this Venezuela news gets out.

Memo to Chevron: The Maduro regime is unsustainable. Everyone except you has turned out the lights and gone home. You're the last company propping the tyrants up.

Pull the pin and let what happens, happen.

Image credit: VOA, via Wikipedia, public domain

Big Oil has always had a reputation for propping up crappy little banana republics and tinpot regimes, and well, Chevron is squarely on the hot seat for that one these days.

See, it's literally the only thing left that's keeping Venezuela afloat, through its large investments in that country. If Chevron pulls out, the Maduro regime collapses. Now there's some question as to whether it ought to be following all the other oil majors and pulling out.

According to today's Wall Street Journal:

Chevron’s dilemma is both moral and commercial. The California-based giant long enjoyed close relations with the socialist regime that controls the world’s largest oil reserves, and has earned big money in Venezuela—about $2.8 billion between 2004 and 2014, according to cash-flow estimates by analytics firm GlobalData .

The company is aware a pullout could trigger a collapse of the government’s finances, because a significant chunk of its scarce hard currency comes from joint operations with Chevron.

Yet by staying in the country as its economic and humanitarian crises deepen, the company risks damage to its reputation by being seen as supporting an authoritarian regime sanctioned by the U.S. government. It also isn’t making much money here anymore.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, Chevron is pretty much the last investor left in Venezuela, and the only source left for hard currency. The country's money has melted down so badly in its one-million-plus inflation that it's down to using a fake cryptocurrency of no credibility whatsoever. But socialists being socialists, they save the best for themselves -- U.S. dollars -- and Chevron pays and deals in U.S. dollars. If Chevron pulls out, Maduro gets the meathook. See how important this oil giant is to the Chavista regime's capacity to stay afloat?

Which is why people are starting to wonder about these guys. Why is Chevron still propping up the Maduro regime when all the other guys have pulled out and sued the bastards for billions, yet Chevron is not making any money from it, which is a disservice to its shareholders. Worst of all, the money it's paying (for royalties, etc. for the privilege of extracting the oil) is solely going into the Maduro regime's coffers and it's the only thing propping the dictatorship up.

The Journal rightly notes that the company stands to lose goodwill for keeping its investments in the heinous Marxist regime, because it's otherwise unsustainable without them.

I understand that they don't want to crash the economy, which is what the Journal reports they are concerned about, but hasn't this economy already crashed, save for that handy income stream to Maduro? The Chevron cash makes him powerful and all the others, including the democracy campaigners, weak. I'd add that that's not just shareholders and the public here who are going to be disgusted as word of this gets out - it's Venezuelans. And there could easily be punishment for Chevron if they somehow get the upper hand despite Chevron's bankrolling role of the current regime. The opposition of Venezuela has already warned Goldman Sachs that if they dared lend money to Maduro, they'd better hope Maduro hangs on because they had no intention of repaying such bonds. Goldman backed away when that got out.

IsChevron, now famous for being the moneybags company of Maduro, really going to expect to be thought of nicely and treated nicely in such circumstances once the regime crumbles? I know that oil companies stay in dodgy regimes because setting up oil operations are so costly and long term to get off the ground. And, getting hold of real estate for oil extraction is very very important to these companies, so leaving might be painful. But they aren't making money there either, and that ought to priority one, which argues for the pullout.

The other thing worth considering is that Chevron really does have a big bank of goodwill for its moral courage in standing up to the rainforest shakedown mafia of Ecuador in recent years. Most oil companies would have paid these clowns to make them go away, beefing up green coffers considerably. Chevron drew the line there and made the world safe for global business, even for the little guys. Contracts are contracts, not shakedown instruments for Mia Farrow and Daryl Hannah to go grandstanding from in fake concern for the denizens of the rainforest, blaming the wrong company. Had Chevron not done that, had it not stood up and said no to the shakedown racket, the world would have been a much lousier place.

Now they seem to be throwing all of that moral capital and goodwill away as this Venezuela news gets out.

Memo to Chevron: The Maduro regime is unsustainable. Everyone except you has turned out the lights and gone home. You're the last company propping the tyrants up.

Pull the pin and let what happens, happen.

Image credit: VOA, via Wikipedia, public domain