Venezuela's oil firm drops from Fortune 500


The biggest companies in America are oil companies. And why shouldn't they be? For just one speculative oil well, drilling to seek commercially extractable oil, the bill can easily come to $50 million. And that's just to find it. Getting  it out of the ground usually costs a lot more.

Multiply the risk with the volatility of oil prices, and the only way to stay in business is to save for a rainy day. Big oil companies are tremendously capitalized. ExxonMobil is the most profitable company in America.
So it's all the more remarkable to see that the new Fortune 500 list of top companies has dropped Venezuela's oil company, PdVSA, from its  ranks altogether. Last year, it ranked 76. This year, it's not there at all, a drop of at least 424 places. Fortune didn't offer any explanation, but that is one big drop for an oil company — and a state oil monopoly in a country with the highest oil reserves in the hemisphere.
Daniel Duquenal speculates that it may be that this company has not filed an SEC statement in more than a year, so its value is impossible to determine. But that alone is a bad sign. Miguel Octavio said the company had grown un—auditable.  Gustavo Coronel calls this financial black box a mockery of the government's freakish claims that 'now the company belongs to all of us.' 
It may most significantly mean this company is losing money faster than anyone realized. Not only is there intransparency, there is also high spending patterns among Venezuelan oil officials — Babalu blog has reported that the PdVSA's treasurer has just bought himself a lavish $1.7 million condo in a ritzy part of Miami. And as we have reported, Chavez has repeatedly talked of selling Venezuela's Citgo refining and marketing arm in the U.S. to raise cash — at a time when all the other oil companies are battling each other ferociously to buy U.S assets — the Unocal battle being the latest. What other oil company has dropped so many spaces on the Fortune 500 list at a time of record oil prices?
A.M. Mora y Leon    07 16 05