How many “rojo-rojitos” PDVSA workers does it take to count 100 oil drilling rigs?

November 16, 2009

Since 2003 after the oil strike, the magnitude of Venezuela’s oil production has been quite controversial, with PDVSA insisting that it produces over 3 million barrels of oil a day and both OPEC and AIE reporting numbers around 20-30% below these levels.

You can argue forever about oil production, mor so if PDVSA does not give much details.

But it it is difficult to create or miscount oil drilling rigs. They are big, there are no more than 3,000 around the world and everyone knows who makes them, sells them or leases them.

In fact, Baker Hughes, an oil service company in the US keeps track of oil drilling rigs around the world. The number of oil drilling rigs in Venezuela given out by Baker Hughes in the last three or four years has disagreed with the official number of PDVSA, which PDVSA has always explained away by saying that Baker Hughes only counts private rigs and that PDVSA has its own. Baker Hughes makes no such differentiation and their only caveats as to their rig count is that they do not count inner Russia and China.

But today’s El Mundo (Which has become a business newspaper and is getting quite good, but needs a subscription on the Internet) compares PDVSA’s “official” rig count with that of OPEC and comes up with this graph:

As you can see, in the last few years, there are huge differences in the number of working oil rigs in Venezuela reported by OPEC and the last few years the difference has become simply huge, with PDVSA saying today that it has 150 active drilling rigs versus the 57 that OPEC reports.

And OPEC has no reason to lie, in fact, Venezuela is one of the most prominent members of OPEC, if the numbers were so far off, you would think Venezuela would complain and the number would be checked. Venezuela could even supply information if needed.

Thus, one has to assume bad faith or incompetence. Either PDVSA leaders are faking the data to attempt to continue to fool the world (few people believe them) or we have to ask the old question: How many “rojo-rojitos” PDVSA workers does it take to count one hundred drilling rigs, after all, PDVSA ahora es de todos (belongs to all of us).

The truth is that if PDVSA had that many active oil rigs, an all-time high in Venezuela, production should be going up steadily, instead PDVSA reports the same production, while OPEC and IEA report small drops almost yearly.

Ramirez thinks he can fool all of us, but the more you lie and fake numbers, the more they become unsustainable. And this one is simply unsustainable.

16 Responses to “How many “rojo-rojitos” PDVSA workers does it take to count 100 oil drilling rigs?”

  1. deananash Says:


    Obviously what I’m talking about wasn’t tried before. A partial strike was executed, but Chavez crushed it. The opposition should have double-downed, not given up.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Miguel Octavio and Guillermo A, Christopher Carr. Christopher Carr said: How many “rojo-rojitos” PDVSA workers does it take to count 100 …: “Throughout the 1980s, democratic insurgen.. […]

  3. Robert Says:

    Rig counting: Hire three of your buddies as managers. Each manager hires a cousin and sends him out to count rigs. Rigs counted and reported to managers. Manager reports to general manager, general manager reports total rig count. Was that so complicated?

    Venezuela has one less rig this month. The Scorpion Jack Up just arrived to Trinidad. One of the managers told me they left Venezuela being owed 100 million dollars. He said, and I quote, “we were just glad they didn’t paint our rig red.” The market is just beginning to warm up. The oil business in Venezuela will get worse before it gets better.

  4. GWEH Says:

    Another BIG drug case coming to light is the Makled brothers. These guys were protected by the regime until the DEA got load of them and the regime cut them loose. Of course the regime has them in custody for they don’t want them cutting a deal with the gringos telling all. Internal infighting was also involved over control of the ports and whatnot. This case saw very large quantities of precursor chemicals used in cocaine imported into Venezuela and then suddenly disappear. I have stated this before: the regime is aiding and abetting in the final processing of cocaine in Venezuela and Colombia. I would not be surprised if some of these clandestine labs straddle inside Brasil and Guyana border.

  5. GWEH Says:

    I’m back and waiting for Burnett to chime in.

    OT: going back to Mali, the regime is nervous about the big Boeing jetliner they found over there with an estimated 10-ton cocaine load.

    Are the PSFs getting the picture? houses in Mali built by the Venezuelan military = high payload cocaine shipments. Coincidence?

    The big African loads (Gulfstreams and Boeings) belong to the regime. Jesse Chacon and his concunado (that formerly ran ONA) know all about it. So does the US DEA.

  6. Roberto Says:

    “I was travelling to a wedding last weekend in Venezuela.”

    AKA, to single men, as “matricidio” 🙂

  7. jsb Says:

    Kind of off topic: “Venezuela’s Petroanzoategui oil upgrader is down 44,000 barrels a day of production since Friday because of problems with a boiler, causing storage issues for the field’s extra-heavy crude”

  8. torres Says:

    “Rojo-rojito” should be “rosado oscurito” 😉

  9. Excellent post, as always.
    The explanation given by gringo, including the workover rigs in the count, is probably the correct one. PDVSA can always say that a rig is a rig, although the workover rigs (called “chivos in oil patois) are small and do not drill.
    BTW, I was in the belief you were on holidays as I erroneously waited for your posts thru

  10. island canuck Says:

    Thank you Miguel.

    One wonders where they are going to get the billions of dollars that will be needed in the next 5 years for infrastructure rebuilding.

  11. moctavio Says:

    i.c.: I have posts on that on De. 6th. and 9th. last year on my estimates for each:

  12. island canuck Says:

    Also, Miguel, it would be really interesting to get an update on the car manufacturing here in Venezuela.

    I recently read that sales of new cars fell some 57% year to year.

    Used car prices are through the roof due to the lack of new cars.

    A family friend inherited an 11 year old Toyota Camry & is asking BsF.100.000. That’s US$46,511 at official rates or around US$19,000 at the parallel rate.

    Is there any hope that this situation is going to improve in the coming months?

  13. island canuck Says:

    How many barrels is Venezuela actually producing in Nov. 2009?

    How many BPD are committed to Alba countries & other giveaways where they are not being paid in cash? China?

    How many BPD is committed for national consumption?

    How many BPD are we actually getting hard currency at world prices?

    If we knew the answers to these questions I think the we would see a problem much more severe than just the world price falling.

  14. Roberto Says:


    That was tried in 2001-2002. It went nowhere.

  15. deananash Says:

    Miguel, I apologize before hand as my post is off-topic. I just read this quote from Christopher Hitchens recent article, located here:

    “Throughout the 1980s, democratic insurgencies in the Philippines and South Korea, as well as the long resistance of the anti-apartheid forces in South Africa, showed that when the ruled do not want to go on in the old way, all they really need do is to fold their arms.”

    This has always been my point. If the people would simply stop all activity, and march every day on the capital, day after day, sooner or later (10 days, 20 days, 30 days, 45 days, 60 days, 100 days) Chavez would be gone.

    Two caveats. When I say “the people”, I mean 1 million committed souls. And when I say “every day”, I mean every single day. The rest of the people can “help” by bringing them food every day. Or taking turns so that the daily turnout is as strong, or stronger than the day before.

    Perhaps that’s even a good strategy. Start with 100,000, then 150,000, then 200,000 and keep building up to one million.

    All you’re missing is the leadership to organize it and the people willing to sacrifice to free their country from tyranny.

  16. Gringo Says:

    The first discrepancy in rig count is in 2004. The PDVSA strike ended in 2003, after which Thugo took control of PDVSA. Not a coincidence. I have not read how Ramirez and friends explain the discrepancy. One way they might do it is to have a rig drill a well for a couple of months, then change the name of the rig when it moves to drill another well. Another way would be to list workover rigs – small rigs that are used to increase production on already producing wells- as drilling rigs. (Rig count does NOT include workover rigs.)

    One way to call PDVSA would be to ask them to for records of wells drilled, with rigs involved.

    My guess is that they don’t even bother to do a halfway decent job of fudging the rig count: they simply add a number that looks good to the actual rig count. An oil company should know how many of its rigs are active etc. My guess is that PDVSA really has no idea how many rigs it has drilling, gets the data from Baker Hughes, and adds a number that would please the boss.

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