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While workers scramble to leave Venezuela’s state-held oil firm by the thousands, PDVSA has just told its employees that they are banned from following users on social media except for those officially authorized by the company, or face sanctions or dismissal.
“From this date on, it’s prohibited to use and follow people on social networks (Twitter, Facebook, or any other) except those authorized by the company in an official manner,” according to a memo sent earlier this week to employees of PDVSA’s joint ventures that Bloomberg has seen.
The report of the social media ban comes a few days after it emerged that PDVSA is losing workers by the thousands, with as many as 10,000 leaving the company in just one week of January, in protests against low wages and the growing risk of accidents due to lack of equipment maintenance. The situation has escalated to such an extent that PDVSA’s board of directors has stopped accepting letters of resignation, according to Univision.
PDVSA, Venezuela’s main source of revenues, currently produces around 1.6 million bpd, the lowest in 30 years and down from 3.8 million bpd back in 1999 when Hugo Chavez came into power. Now, pressured by a deteriorating economy and sanctions, the oil company has no means to maintain its equipment and production, and it is unable to hold onto its workforce. Venezuela’s oil industry is collapsing along with its economy, and oil production has been in freefall for months now. Barclays, for example, predicts that Venezuela’s production will drop to 1.43 million bpd this year.
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While PDVSA workers face much bigger, and life-threatening, problems than social media restrictions—like starving workers quitting the oil firm because finding food is more important for them than being in a heavy-labor job that pays in bolivars whose value shrinks by the hour—Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro claims his country is restoring some of its oil production.
Maduro has also just launched the pre-sale of the El Petro cryptocurrency which, he claims, raked in US$735 million in the first 20 hours, and instructed the oil minister and PDVSA president Manuel Quevedo “to allocate a percentage of PDVSA’s purchase and sale transactions in the petro currency.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.