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Cablegate: Embassy Caracas

VZCZCXRO8015
RR RUEHDE
DE RUEHCV #1822/01 2571638
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 141638Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9716
INFO RUEHHH/OPEC COLLECTIVE
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 0879
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 7506
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 5987
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 1675
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 2585
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 0862
RUEHSP/AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN 3486
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2677
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 4001
RUEHDG/AMEMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO 0507
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHEHAAA/WHITEHOUSE WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0922
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

CO N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 001822

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE SIPDIS

ENERGY FOR CDAY AND ALOCKWOOD NSC FOR JCARDENAS AND JSHRIER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/12/2017 TAGS: EPET ENRG EINV ECON VE

REF: A. CARACAS 1281

B. CARACAS 1655 C. CARACAS 472 D. CARACAS 1314 E. CARACAS 1675 F. CARACAS 1157 G. CARACAS 1808

Classified By: [Text removed by Aftenposten] for Reason 1.4 (D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: Contrary to repeated BRV statements, Norways Statoil will receive cash compensation for its lost equity in the Sincor strategic association. Under the terms of the migration agreement, major investment decisions will be made by qualified majority. PDVSA has been instructed not to fire employees on political grounds. This suggests that PDVSA offered widely varying terms to at least some of the six companies that invested in the Faja strategic associations. END SUMMARY

------------------ A PRETTY GOOD DEAL ------------------

2. (C) Petroleum Attache (Petatt) met with Statoil Venezuela President Thore Kristiansen (strictly protect throughout) on September 12 to discuss the terms of the Sincor migration to a PDVSA-controlled joint venture (Reftel A). Kristiansen began the meeting by noting that Statoil received a good deal under the circumstances. Contrary to Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez public statement on August 29 that neither Statoil or Total received compensation for their lost equity in the Sincor strategic association. Kristiansen stated that PDVSA has agreed to compensate Statoil. (Note: Under the terms of the migration, Statoils stake in Sincor was reduced from 15 to 10%. End Note.)

3. (C) According to Kristiansen, Statoil will receive its compensation in the form of cash but has the option of receiving it in crude oil. He stated he was more than 90% sure that Statoil would take the cash. Although he would not state the amount of the compensation, he implied that it was well above book value, which was PDVSAs opening offer. He stated Statoil would have refused to migrate its interest if it had only received book value.

4. (C) As reported in Reftel A, Energy Minister Ramirez also stated that each of the strategic associations blocks would be reduced during the migration process. When Petatt raised the issue, Kristiansen stated Sincors block had actually been increased from roughly 312 square kilometers to 399 square kilometers. He explained that Sincors original block assignment had contained several areas that were reserved to Sincor but that could not be added to its block without BRV approval. As part of the migration process, the reserved areas will be added to Petrocedino, the PDVSA controlled joint venture that will be formed from Sincor.

---------- GOVERNANCE ----------

5. (C) Kristiansen also stated that Statoil was pleased with the governance terms of Petrocedino. Various types of decisions require board approval by qualified majorities of 51, 71, or 91%. The joint ventures business plan and all major investment decisions require a qualified majority. Kristiansen stated the governance terms looked good on paper but added it remained to be seen if the BRV and PDVSA would honor them in practice. He later stated, however, that having the terms in "black and white" would allow Statoil to "hold it up to PDVSAs face" if PDVSA breached the terms.

------------ LABOR ISSUES ------------

6. (C) Kristiansen noted that the opposition paper Tal Cual had run several stories reporting that Sincor employees had been fired on political grounds (Reftel B). Following the publication of the stories, Kristiansen stated Minister Ramirez sent a three page memo to senior PDVSA officials stating that it was a violation of Venezuelan law to discriminate against employees or fire them for their political beliefs. He added that it was clear from conversations with PDVSA managers in Sincor that they had clearly received the message. Kristiansen noted that it remained to be seen if PDVSA would stick to its new labor policy once the migration was completed.

7. (C) Kristiansen stated Sincor employees have still not received their new Petrocedino employment package. He added that there was no timeline for the delivery of the package to the employees.

------- COMMENT -------

8. (C) Kristiansen told Petatt in March that the three most important issues for Statoil during the migration negotiations were compensation, governance, and taxes (Reftel C). Although he did not mention taxes in the meeting, it was clear that Statoil was pleased with the terms of the migration. Statoils comments regarding governance issues closely mirror Chevrons (Reftel D).

9. (C) It is apparent based on our conversations with five of the six companies that invested in the Faja strategic associations that the BRV offered widely differing terms to the companies. For example, the BRV reduced Cerro Negros block size and BP paid half a million dollars in notes in order to minimize the blocks reduction (Reftel E). Both ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips stated the BRV has consistently stated it would only compensate them based on the book value of their investments and refused to show flexibility on governance terms (Reftels F and G).

DUDDY

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