A TikTok comedian has made an episode on his social networks in which he plays a battery of gasoline and its vicissitudes, as the battery of the pump that carries fuel to a car engine is commonly called.
It is a joke that accumulates thousands of
, but it has become a topic of conversation in recent days in Venezuela.
In recent months, the problems due to the poor quality of the fuel that is produced in a PDVSA at half speed have worsened.
The videos of cars on fire, the interviews with car mechanics who talk about an epidemic of damaged gasoline batteries have multiplied, at the same time that the state oil company is sinking in complaints about corruption that have led the Government itself to launch a purge. in his own bowels.
At least 26 vehicles have caught fire in Zulia —the oil state of western Venezuela— so far this year, according to firefighters from that entity, and this week it was the turn of one from the international organization Caritas that distributes humanitarian aid.
Cases have also been reported in the eastern part of the country and in Caracas.
This occurs while once again the shortage returns to produce kilometer-long lines at the filling stations.
There is talk that the gasoline is dirty, that the octane number is not correct, that it is out of formula, that it has a lot of sulfur.
PDVSA, to try to lower the flame of the concerns of the drivers, released a video this week in which some officials give citizens in the city of Maracaibo to smell fuel extracted from a tanker truck and put in a plastic bottle to store water, recycled for the street experiment.
This is how they try to verify the quality of gasoline.
The strategy has been incendiary and has unleashed memes and jokes about "
The oil company has also indicated in a report on its official television channel that the problem with cars on fire is due to leaks in the tanks, the use of defective spare parts in the vehicles and incorrect handling at the time of refueling.
The poor quality, according to the Government, is an "opinion matrix."
🇻🇪🗞️ #Find out ||
Community verifies fuel status just arriving at the Santa Fe Service Station in Zulia State.#PDVSA#ElCombustibleQueNosMueve@NicolasMaduro@TellecheaRuiz pic.twitter.com/0v6yo92Dkx
– Petróleos de Venezuela, SA (@PDVSA) April 26, 2023
Oswaldo Rivas has been a mechanic for 20 years and is impressed by the state of the pistons of the vehicles he receives in his workshop.
"The gasoline is causing a lot of knocking and that in the long run damages the engine," says the technician specializing in European cars.
“There is an epidemic of bad gasoline pumps.
They burn, you change them and they break down again and it is difficult to start the cars first thing in the day.
You change the gasoline filters and after a month they are as if you had never changed them.
That's where water and mud come out."
Whoever you ask may have changed the battery in the pump at least twice in the last year.
It is also a common anecdote for the fuel tank gauge to fail and indicate that there is more or less gasoline than is actually in the tank.
The sale of additives and fuels of different types and even gallons of imported fuel such as ethanol to increase the octane number has become widespread at gas stations.
Oswaldo, for example, adds one for race cars to his own car: "I prefer to spend on that and take care of my engine."
In oil-producing Venezuela, gasoline runs through everyday life.
Since the days when it was the strange country where gasoline was given away and paid for with candy because there was no currency to cancel it;
in which it was taboo to increase its price for the memory of the social outbreak of the Caracazo of 1989;
Until these days when most Venezuelans pay half a cent per liter, lose hours in line to load it, and people live with the uncertainty of whether their vehicle will catch fire next.
In some States, in addition, fuel rationing and distribution schedules by vehicle license plate number have been reactivated.
PDVSA is going through a long crisis that began long before the country was completely paralyzed at the start of the pandemic due to lack of fuel.
Years of mismanagement and corruption led to the collapse of the industry, which is also going through the siege of the sanctions imposed by the United States that have complicated the commercialization of crude oil since 2019.
The government of Nicolás Maduro came to the aid of Iran to overcome the crisis.
Between 2020 and 2021, fuel ships and technicians were received to repair the refineries and increase oil production that reached its historical lows in those years.
The oil industry has not been able to raise much, since it cannot even reach one million barrels of crude per day and it has taken it almost two years to go from just under 400,000 to 700,000 barrels per day, which is what it currently produces.
“The gasoline we are producing is out of specification,” says Iván Freites, general secretary of the Oil Workers Federation union of professionals and technicians, who went into exile two years ago after being persecuted for his complaints.
“The gasoline that is being produced in the catalytic plant does not exceed 82 octane and has a high sulfur content.
The dragging soda in the catalysis and the high volatility causes high pressure in the combustion system and causes it to ignite.
Hence the damage to bombs and vehicle fires”, explains the leader.
In addition, adds Freites, naphthas and olefins are being added and not the extra components that the formula should include.
Recently, the Amuay and Cardón refineries and the fuel reforming plants have had failures.
"The poor quality of gasoline is also due to bad operations and the employment of unqualified personnel."
Freites assures that this is added to the fact that the sediments accumulated in the storage tanks, when inventories are depleted, are being removed and integrated into the gasoline that is distributed.
Freites estimates that the country currently produces some 80,000 barrels of fuel a day, although domestic demand exceeds 110,000 barrels.
Despite the fact that the oil industry has been reduced to 20% of the capacity it had a decade ago, the supply agreements at a discount to Chavismo's allies are maintained and a large part of the fuel production is supplied to Cuba and, according to Freites, it still feeds the smuggling mafias.
For this reason, the crisis with the cars on fire in Venezuela has its expression in the Caribbean country, with an enormous shortage that has forced Miguel Díaz Canel to suspend the commemorative acts of Labor Day next Monday, a stellar anniversary for the revolution.
"Countries that have certain commitments with us to supply us, based on the agreements we have, have been in a complex energy situation and cannot fulfill those commitments," the Cuban president said a few days ago.
The ordeal that Venezuelans live with gasoline is one face of the effects of corruption in the state oil company that led the Oil Minister and Chavismo heavyweight, Tareck El Aissami, to practically disappear, and the Chavista government to finish revealing the dark plot
In the so-called operation Whoever falls, according to the latest balance sheet by Attorney General Tarek William Saab, the Venezuelan authorities have seized more than a thousand assets, including buildings, mansions, yachts, planes and luxury vehicles, and arrested 80 PDVSA officials in 172 raids.
One of them died in prison last week, allegedly by suicide.
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