Just when Venezuela needs to send positive signals to world markets, as it intends to sell more and more debt internationally, the Venezuelan Government and PDVSA do exactly the opposite and decide to cancel the contract with the independent auditor Inspectorate that was hired two years ago to try to convince the world that Venezuela’s production and export numbers as reported by OPEC and the IEA are wrong. Both of these institutions have been reporting that Venezuela’s official oil numbers are significantly above those obtained by them from their independent analysis.
Neither PDVSA nor the Ministry of Energy and Oil gave much of an explanation for the cancellation of the contract. The auditing company is closing its offices in Venezuela.
What this will do is create further uncertainties in the country’s numbers which will not aid in reducing the so called credit risk of Venezuela at a time that the country needs to issue more and more debt. This means that issuance of the country’s debt will be more costly that the country’s numbers justify. Last week, Knight Securities suggested that the country’s handling of official news and statistics and the lack of a clear spokesman for the country on financial matters is making it more expensive for the country to issue debt. In a report entitled “The Monk’s exorcism boosts our faith in Venezuela” the company suggests it costs Venezuela 200 to 300 bps because of the way information is managed by Minister Giordani.
In the same report, PDVSA said that exports in February were 16% lower than those in January and this week international reserves at the Venezuelan Central Bank dropped to their lowest level since 2007, despite the Venezuelan oil basket averaging over US$ 100 per barrel last week.