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    Colombia

    1. The Colombian energy minister said that the gov't has set a goal of signing 205 oil and natural gas exploration and exploitation contracts in the next 4 years. It also expects that 570 wells will be dug and that 1.15 million barrels per day will be produced.



    1. Kidnappings in Colombia reportedly increased 32 percent in 2010, according to statistics maintained by an NGO. [security issue, kidnappings are pretty big business still, in no small part due to FARC and ELN as well as smaller DTOs].



    1. Colombian exporters' association Analdex said that Venezuela  has only approved $300 million of the debt owed to Colombia, while Venezuela has claimed it has approved $530 million. Venezuela has also claimed that $200 million of the $800 million debt is due to overpricing.



    1. The Colombian Ministry of Energy and Mines will conduct surprise mine inspections at 500 mines in the departments of Boyaca, Antioquia, Cundinamarca and Norte de Santander. [Including because it’s a tightening of labor/regulatory rules, which could apply to other sectors in the future].



    1. Suspected FARC militants bombed a section of the Transandino oil pipeline on Feb. 9, causing damage.



    1. China is reportedly negotiating with Colombia to build a railway as an alternative to the Panama Canal, according to statements by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.



    1. (Ongoing Issue) There hasn’t really been an end to this issue, but I’m including it anyways. The Colombian Truckers’ Association has been on nationwide strike since Feb. 3. They’ve significantly disrupted traffic on the Rumichaca bridge from Ipiales, Colombia to Tulcan, Ecuador. It seems that they are in ongoing negotiations with the gov’t and have managed to disrupt traffic in Bogota through roadblocks. If the protest spreads or lasts longer, it could actually affect nationwide travel and food supplies.

    Venezuela

    1. In statements made to legislators on Feb. 8, Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said that the murder rate in Venezuela is 48 per 100,000 inhabitants. [this is the official murder rate, it’s probably slightly higher].



    1. Defense Minister Carlos Mata Figueroa said in statements to VTV on Feb. 9 that the armed forces did not pose a coup threat and were unified. Mata Figueroa also said that Russian military hardware would begin to arrive soon.



    1. On Feb. 13 Chavez signed a decree creating 17 vital emergency housing areas for the construction of emergency housing in Venezuela. The zones comprise 2,703 hectares and include Fort Tiuna I, Fort Tiuna II, Cua station, Charallave Norte, Valles del Tuy, Lomas de Guadalupe, Playa Grande, Ciudad Caribia, Catia La Mar, Base Libertador y Base Aragua, El Viñedo, Complejo Refinador Jose, Yucatán in Lara state and the eastern shore of Lake Maracaibo in Zulia. [This is important because land may be expropriated at some of these locations for housing]. The areas will be under the control of a presidential commission.



    1. Venezuela's active drilling rig count rose by 11 to 94 in Jan. 2011, according to OPEC statistics. Current activity is 23 percent higher than the 70 rigs recorded on average in 2010.



    1. The Venezuelan opposition will schedule its primary elections for the 2012 presidential eelctions for late 2011. So far Caracas metropolitan mayor Antonio Ledezma appears to be the only candidate that has announced his intention to run.



    1. The Venezuelan gov't could restrict fuel purchases by private vehicles to promote fuel conservation. Although no formal announcement that there will be fuel restrictions has been made Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said that Venezuela needs to reduce its gasoline consumption by 100,000 bpd in 2011.



    1. 6 of the 20 generating units at the Guri dam are reportedly non-functional or under maintenance. These are units number 4, 6, 8,9,12 and 16. According to information posted on Twitter, this has cost the Guri dam 630 MW in output and requires the rationing of 1,100 MW nationwide.



    1. Venezuela chose Petronas, CNOOC, Sontrach and a Russian consortium for bidding on the Mariscal Sucre natural gas project. The Russian firms involved are Surgutneftegaz, Rosneft, Gazprom and Lukoil.



    1. US assistant secretary of state Arturo Valenzuela said that the US is analyzing whether Venezuela is violating international sanctions on Iran through energy cooperation.



    1. Venezuela will begin importing 16 million liters of fuel per month into Colombia's Norte de Santander department. The imports will begin on Feb. 17, after being suspended since Aug. 18, 2009.



    1. Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez denied that Venezuela is exporting gasoline to Iran in violation of sanctions. He said that Iran is now self-sufficient in gasoline production.



    1. Venezuela has paid $365 million in debt owed to Colombian exporters, Venezuelan FM Nicolas Maduro said. Venezuelan and Colombian officials will meet again to discuss economic matters on March 2 and 3.



    1. Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said that Venezuela loses $1.5 billion per year in gasoline subsidies and that this is due to a discrepancy between the cost of production and the cost of fuel. [This shows why the fuel subsidy issue is of concern to the gov’t, but they won’t raise fuel prices.]

    Ecuador

    1. Correa extended on Feb. 8 the state of emergency at the National Assembly for another 60 days.



    1. International arbitrators ordered Ecuador to suspend enforcement of the judgement against Chevron in the 18-year-old environmental case against the company.



    1. Chevron was fined $8 billion for contamination from 1972-1990 in Ecuador.



    1. The Constitutional Court on Feb. 15 approved the 10-question referendum and popular consultation submitted by the Ecuadorian gov't.



    1. The signing of the first contract with Petroecuador for exploitation of older (30 years or older) oil fields will be signed in April. The bidding rounds for these fields will begin in April, in which Halliburton, Weatherford, Baker Hughes, Woodgroup, Schlumberger, Sertecpet, Sipc-Sinopec, Barkie Kalila Investments, the Faculty of Geology and Mines of Ecuador and Otopetroleum are participating.

    Full text

    Colombia


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