domingo, 22 de julio de 2012

Aban Pearl, tug boats and oil tankers: a memo for the PDVSA files

Seven years in construction, at double the cost

We read in Wikipedia ( ) that the Aban Pearl was built in 1977 and 30 years later it was purchased by the Indian drilling company Aban Offshore for US$211 million. After being contracted to PDVSA for five years through an intermediary company by PDVSA for five years it was taken to Venezuela.  In August 2009 en route from Trinidad to Venezuela its flotation devices took on water in heavy seas about 2 nautical miles (3.7 km; 2.3 mi) south-west of Gaspar Grande, Trinidad and there was a call to evacuate the platform.

This should have been a warning sign but instead the rig was hastily repaired in Trinidad and went on to Venezuela.  On 13 May 2010 at 2:20 a.m. (0650 GMT), when drilling at the Dragon 6 gas field, the rig sank in the deep about 525 feet (160 m) after water entered a subsea pontoon.

What is the truth on the matter of insurance?

  In looking at the insurance for this rig I found information  from Eurasia, an insurance company that claims to have undertaken the re-insurance for the sunken rig. This is what they say:  :

“Eurasia will undertake reinsurance payment on a sunken semi-submersible drilling platform Aban Pearl.

The insured event occurred during the night from 12th to 13th May 2010 in the waters of the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela. As a preliminary cause of the flooding there was a problem with one of the pontoons, supporting one of the towers on the rig… In the case of Aban Pearl total losses reached USD235 million. Property interest of the owner of the sunken platform was reinsured by Eurasia. As part of its share of liability, JSC Eurasia Insurance Company will pay USD498.899 thousand”.

However, I also found another information from a different  insurance company that also claims to have made the payment. (

Mumbai, July 29, 2010: ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Ltd., India’s largest private sector General Insurance company, promptly facilitates settlement of Aban Pearl’s total loss claim worth USD 235 million…. The rig was reinsured with ‘A’ rated reinsurers from Lloyds market with the lead reinsurer being Argenta Syndicate. Other reinsurers included General Insurance Corporation of India, Trust International Insurance & Reinsurance Co. of Bahrain, Zurich Insurance Co. and SCOR Global P & C. The reinsurance broker for this insurance program was Willis.
Approximately 97% of the claim amount of USD 235 million has already been paid. within 3 months of claim intimation by Aban Pearl and the remaining amount will be settled shortly”.

In this last version the amount of the payment and the names of the re-insurers are totally different from Eurasia’s announcement.  We have two amounts which are very different. One is $235 million, the other is $499 million (round number). How much did the owners really received? What company paid the insurance?

ABAN Offshore Corp. confirms they only got paid half the amount PDVSA contracted for.

In the 2010 Annual Report for Aban Offshore, the owner of the rig says, in page 14, that they had been receiving $283,000 for the rental of the barge, while PDVSA was paying twice as much money to PetroMarine. This is yet another confirmation that a great fraud was committed. Link:

Meanwhile, back in PDVSA….

What kind of payment arrangements have been made between PDVSA and PetroMarine?  We have a right to know if PDVSA paid PetroMarine any amount and how much it paid. Or if it is planning to pay. There is a rumor that a payment of $150 million has been approved by PDVSA for PetroMarine  but we cannot confirm its veracity or who would be the beneficiary of such a payment, if true.


In 2011 PDVSA bought 42 tug boats in Singapore, again through a company that remains unidentified (Could it be PetroMarine?). The acquisition was published in specialized journals as follows:

Fairstar Heavy Transport N.V. (FAIR) has signed two marine heavy transportation contracts with GAC in Aberdeen Scotland. Fairstar’s semi-submersible vessels FJORD and FJELL will transport a flotilla of 42 tug boats from Singapore to Maracaibo, Venezuela in April and May of 2011.
Both vessels are now mobilizing to Singapore. Chris Muilwijk of the Fairstar Client Services Group provided some additional details. “The safe, secure loading and transport of these tug boats from Singapore, around The Cape of Good Hope to Venezuela requires precise planning and seamless operational execution. We are delighted to have been chosen by GAC and take their trust in our company very seriously. The combined skills of our Operations Team with our experienced Team on board FJORD and FJELL will be a significant factor in performing the complex maneuvers required to safely load and unload such a multitude of floating objects. This is an unusual assignment for our Team, but we are determined to exceed the expectations of our client for safety and reliability.” stated Muilwijk.

The company that received these tug boats in Venezuela on behalf of the owner was VENSPORT, C.A.  I wrote Mr. ALEX HERNANDEZ, its marketing manager, in April 2011 to know what company had acquired the tugs and, although he was cordial, he did not give me any information. He was not obliged to do so, of course.

 In parallel I received information from a reliable source in Venezuela that these tug boats were, in fact, acquired by PDVSA. The price of acquisition should be the object of an investigation by the authorities because my source says it was significantly above the right price. If true this would represent another huge fraud.  

The 47,000 tons oil tanker “Eva Peron” was finally completed in Argentina, seven years after the start of its construction. A tanker of this size has a normal cost of some $40 million. PDVSA paid Argentina $70 million and ordered another one to be built ( possibly to be named Cristina Kirchner? ). The Argentinian state-owned shipyard “Astilleros Rio Santiago” was financially broke in 2005 and the Venezuelan contract became a life saver. Again, this transaction should be investigated since the money paid by Chavez to Cristina Kirchner seems to be  significantly above the real cost in the  international shipping industry.  



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