(L) Igor Ivanovich Sechin, CEO of Rosneft and (R) Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s energy minister

The Russians are back in Caracas, but bearing no sweet little black terrier puppies (or similar) from Vladimir Putin for Hugo Chávez this time – not least because he’s not really around to receive gifts.

Although the high-level delegation is ostensibly visiting to attend to business, including major oil investments in the Orinoco Belt, they must also be acutely curious to know what’s up with Venezuela’s ailing leader. Read more

ChavezIt is well known that Hugo Chávez is the one that takes the all big decisions in Venezuela, and quite a lot of the smaller ones too.

Indeed, the policy paralysis as he battles cancer from his hospital bed in Havana is becoming all too evident. But there is growing evidence that other important decisions for the nation outside of the government’s control are also being postponed because of Chávez’s absence – in particular regarding investment by foreign companies interested in developing oilfields in the Orinoco Belt. Read more