Venezuelans forced to queue for days to fill up their cars with gasoline are now facing a growing shortage of propane to cook after a processing plant caught fire and distribution is being rationed. The Jose petrochemical complex that supplies propane used by about 90% of Venezuelans to cook has slowed production since a fire and a pipeline leakage, union leader Jose Bodas said. As a result, the military has taken control of distribution and began rationing deliveries nationwide, according to people familiar with the logistics, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal.
Venezuela’s oil industry is facing its worst crisis ever as U.S. sanctions, the crude market’s collapse and the Covid-19 pandemic aggravate years of mismanagement and a lack of maintenance and investment. The government of Nicolas Maduro has resorted to fuel supplies from Iran as state-run producer Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, is unable to meet domestic demand for gasoline even though the South American country holds the world’s largest crude reserves.
“Supply is very low,” said Antero Alvarado, a managing partner at consultancy Gas Energy Latin America in Caracas. “It can’t meet historic demand of 60,000 barrels a day. PDVSA hasn’t been able to match the deficit with imports.”
Protesters have taken to the streets to demand propane supplies, defying security forces as the country imposes strict lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus.