One often hears that, if the government were put in charge of the Sahara, we would soon enough have a shortage of sand. The details vary, and the saying is attributed to different people, but the point is generally consistent.
Now we have a case in point. Venezuela is said to have the largest proven petroleum reserves in the world. But the government has been unable to keep the nationalized refineries running, so it imports gasoline and resells it for less than it pays. As a result, Venezuela has a shortage of gasoline.
As the company’s crumbling refineries fail to meet domestic demand, imports have become a financial burden because the country buys fuel abroad at market prices only to sell it for pennies per gallon at home. PDVSA, as the state-run producer is known, has been reducing the money-losing imports as it prepares for $2 billion in bond payments due next month, said Jose Brito, an opposition lawmaker on the National Assembly’s oil commission.