Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Can he really be that clueless? 

It was previously reported that at the rally last Saturday opposition presidential candidate, Manuel Rosales, said Venezuelan oil production was 1.1 million barrels per day. That would be quite a stunning statement as Venezuelan oil production is definitely over 3 million barrels per day as has been pointed out so many times on this blog that I hardly think I even need to provide any links on it.

I thought he must have been misquoted or referring to something else as he couldn't have made such an egregious mistake. Today I found the video of what he said:

Unfortunately, he said exactly what I was afraid he said. Here is the exact quote on oil production:

For example, Venezuela should be producing 3 million barrels per day of oil and it is only producing 1 million or 1.1 million barrels a day.

Now, some have tried to make excuses for Rosales saying he is really referring to what the Venezuelan national oil company, PDVSA, produces or some such other sub-set of numbers. But that is clearly not the case. When he says Venezuela should be producing 3 million barrels per day of oil he clearly has to be talking about the country as a whole as that is what that number would correspond to. Plus, in plain spanish that is what he actually said - he specified "Venezuela" not PDVSA or some other entity.

Clearly this man who would hold himself up as the next President of Venezuela doesn't even know basic facts about what is far and away its most important industry (and to make matters worse he actually comes from one of the main oil producing regions of the country). As Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said later on that tape it is simply stunning that he could be so poorly informed about something that is of such vital importance to Venezuela. I have to agree. I would expect any potential President of the United States to know things like what the population of the U.S. is, what the size of the Federal budget is, how much the deficit is, how many U.S. troops are in Iraq, and how long Social Security is expected to be solvent. Yet when commenting on a matter of similar importance to Venezuela this guy completely flubbed it. Not good. And I don't think any of his aides have even come out and corrected this by saying he just mispoke!

Moreover, some time ago Rosales said he was going to come out with the details of what his oil policy would be. I have been anxiously awaiting it but it has yet to come out. You would think that before you go off promising Venezuelan's the world with hugely expensive new programs you would make sure you have policies in place to help assure that you have the money to fund those programs. That they don't shows to me their lack of seriousness.

Suffice it to say though that these comments don't give me much confidence that the policy will be anything very good. Clearly it's hard to get oil policy right when you can't even get basic facts about the industry's current status correct. Furthermore, although his numbers were WAY off the statement seems to hint at the idea that Venezuela should be producing a lot more oil than it currently is. Given that the price of oil is heading downward due to the market being oversupplied I don't think that would be a good idea.

The opposition likes to trumpet Rosales as somehow being more "competant" than Chavez. If this statement is indicative of his level of "competance" that sure looks like nonsense. Fortunately, Venezuelan's needn't worry about when he goes back to his day job on December 4th as Zulia doesn't have its own oil policy.


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