US Unable to Supply Caribbean if PetroCaribe Ends, Admits Success of Venezuelan Program

Caracas, Venezuela (VA) – US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes warned Caribbean nations Wednesday that the United States would be unable to supply them with oil in the event that that Venezuela’s newly elected opposition-controlled parliament cuts off the flow of subsidized petroleum under the PetroCaribe program.

“They have benefited substantially from PetroCaribe,” Rhodes admitted, referring to a 2005 agreement between Venezuela and 18 Latin American and Caribbean nations, where Caracas supplies its neighbors with 100,000 barrels per day, 60% of which is paid up-front, while the remaining 40% can be paid over the course of 25 years at 1%.

“We’re not going to be able to simply substitute American oil for Venezuelan oil,” the high-level official added.

The White House advisor’s praise for the Venezuelan program contrasts sharply with comments by Vice-President Biden in January who called PetroCaribe a “tool of coercion” in the region.

During a visit to Jamaica in April, President Obama unveiled a US plan to promote World Bank investment in the Caribbean’s energy sector in a bid to persuade countries to break with the Venezuelan program.

Oil barrell Image Source: olle svensson, Flickr, Creative Commons

Oil barrell
Image Source: olle svensson, Flickr, Creative Commons

Rhodes claimed that the president’s program had already been successful in providing expertise in refining and energy planning, noting however that the US would be unable to offer a substitute to subsidized Venezuelan oil exports and that Caribbean countries would have to meet their energy needs on the world market.

Following its landslide victory in Venezuelan legislative elections on Sunday, the opposition is widely predicted to seek the repeal of international treaties such as ALBA and PetroCaribe, which it has long opposed on account of the collaboration with leftist governments in Cuba, Nicaragua, and elsewhere.

Despite the new incoming parliament in Venezuela, PetroCaribe member countries have expressed optimism that the program will continue.

“In the spirit of the Bolivarian revolution spearheaded by President Chávez, we are very hopeful that things will work out in the same spirit,” stated Jamaican Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell.

In recent months, the Venezuelan government has reaffirmed its commitment to PetroCaribe amidst a severe economic situation triggered by collapsing oil prices, among other factors.

Last month, President Nicolas Maduro paid a visit to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where he pledged to expand PetroCaribe investments.

This report was prepared by LUCAS KOERNER for