Commentary: What's next for Venezuela post-Chavez?

08 March 2013 09:30  [Source: ICB]

Following the death of its colourful and controversial leader, Hugo Chavez, there is a lot of interest in future developments in a country with some of the world's largest oil deposits and huge potential for chemicals.

Chavez developed a theory of "21st-century socialism", which involved the nationalisation of large parts of the country's economy in a drive to reduce the gap between rich and poor. The main impact, however, was to scare away the very international investment and expertise that is needed to modernise the economy, especially in oil, chemical and polymer production. State oil company PDVSA, once one of the world's top oil producers, saw its production levels decline from 3.5m bbl/day in 2002 to some 2.5m bbl/day in 2011despite Venezuela holding the world's largest oil reserves - some 296.5bn bbl, according to BP's latest Statistical Review of World Energy.

Plans by Brazil's Braskem and state-owned Pequiven for a joint-venture cracker and polyethylene (PE) project appear to have stalled, although the companies continue to study a polypropylene (PP) project.

Analysts suggest that, if anything, the new government expected to be formed by interim president ­Nicolas Maduro is likely to implement even more radical policies than that of his predecessor.

By: Will Beacham
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