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  • Bancomext poised to provide energy project financing

    Mexico's foreign trade bank Bancomext is preparing to finance oil and gas projects in the country, according to the bank's chief executive Enrique de la Madrid Cordero (pictured). The bank is already financing renewable energy and natural gas pipeline projects as well as firms supplying state-owned oil company Pemex, the executive was quoted by state news agency Notimex as saying during a Latin American banking summit in Cancún. De la Madrid said Mexico's energy reform will have the greatest impact of all the reforms implemented so far by the current government, as it is "detonating investment in different areas, among them gas pipelines." Given the opportunity to import cheap natural gas from the US and the demand for that fuel in Mexico, Bancomext is financing part of the Los Ramones pipeline, which will run from Texas to the central state of Guanajuato, and will support investment in projects to supply natural gas to the country's west coast. He said Bancomext has not yet defined concrete projects for the energy sector. Bancomext's portfolio of private energy sector financing increased from 2.77bn pesos (US$181mn) in 2013 to 7.9bn pesos (US$516mn) in 2014. De la Madrid said the bank is paying close attention to the tender processes resulting from the energy reform to provide capital and financing as projects require it. "The energy reform, even with low oil prices, will be an important business generator," according to the executive. "Mexico has an enormous energy demand and, as the economy grows, it will require more, and access to cheaper energy will in turn drive economic growth."

  • Burgos Field

    The Burgos natural gas basin, which is in northeast Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and Coahuila states in northeastern Mexico, started natural gas production in 1945 with the drilling of well Misión 1. It covers an area of 109,605km2. Gas production at Pemex's Burgos field has fully recovered after a September 19 explosion damaged the Reynosa gas compression facility that receives much of the field's output. Burgos doubled its production to 1.40Bf3/d from November 1-11 from 701Mf3/d in the same period of October. Burgos accounts for roughly 20% of national gas output.

  • Bancomext poised to provide energy project financing

    Mexico's foreign trade bank Bancomext is preparing to finance oil and gas projects in the country, according to the bank's chief executive Enrique de la Madrid Cordero (pictured). The bank is already financing renewable energy and natural gas pipeline projects as well as firms supplying state-owned oil company Pemex, the executive was quoted by state news agency Notimex as saying during a Latin American banking summit in Cancún. De la Madrid said Mexico's energy reform will have the greatest impact of all the reforms implemented so far by the current government, as it is "detonating investment in different areas, among them gas pipelines." Given the opportunity to import cheap natural gas from the US and the demand for that fuel in Mexico, Bancomext is financing part of the Los Ramones pipeline, which will run from Texas to the central state of Guanajuato, and will support investment in projects to supply natural gas to the country's west coast. He said Bancomext has not yet defined concrete projects for the energy sector. Bancomext's portfolio of private energy sector financing increased from 2.77bn pesos (US$181mn) in 2013 to 7.9bn pesos (US$516mn) in 2014. De la Madrid said the bank is paying close attention to the tender processes resulting from the energy reform to provide capital and financing as projects require it. "The energy reform, even with low oil prices, will be an important business generator," according to the executive. "Mexico has an enormous energy demand and, as the economy grows, it will require more, and access to cheaper energy will in turn drive economic growth."

  • Cantarell Complex

    The Cantarell complex in the Gulf of Mexico includes six fields: Nohoch, Chac, Kutz, Ixtoc, Sihil and Akal, the largest. First discovered in 1976, the field produced 111.49Bb of oil and 4.69 trillion cubic feet of gas between the years 1979 and 2005. Cantarell, once the largest offshore development project in the world, has since declined precipitously, having been overtaken by the Ku Maloob Zaap field.

  • Sabesp working to keep multi-billion dollar contracts

    São Paulo state water utility Sabesp is currently working on maintaining 55 waterworks concession contracts that brought in a total of 6.3bn reais (US$2.0bn) in revenue during the first quarter of this year. Negotiations are taking place on all of those contracts and, according to the utility, not one of them will be lost, local paper Valor Econômico reported. By 2030, another 37 contracts are set to will expire. RURAL TOWNS SEEKING TO BREAK TIES WITH SABESP The report highlighted five rural towns which want to cut their ties with Sabesp, namely Álvares Florence Cajobi, Embaúba, Iperó, and Macatuba. Between January and March, Sabesp's contracts with the latter four towns produced a total of 11.3mn reais for the company. Álvares Florence has already cancelled its service with Sabesp and since 2012 water services have been managed by private water concessionaire Datema Ambiental, but Sabesp is still seeking 8mn reais from the town for municipal investments for which it has not yet received compensation. [GRAFICO:FIGURA:ID_1868] var grafico = '{"colors":["#001b96","#f78e1e","#181818","#8ec4fb","#fabb78","#2577cb","#d9d9d9","#1281b4","#7d7d7d","#3349ab","#0f648b","#343434"],"chart":{"renderTo":"chart_plotted","type":"column"},"plotOptions":{"column":{"stacking":"normal"}},"xAxis":{"categories":[2015,2016,2017,2018,2019]},"yAxis":{"title":{"text":"mn reais"}},"series":[{"data":[1518,1919,907,711,563],"name":"Water","_colorIndex":0},{"data":[587,544,1255,1255,1427],"name":"Sewage collection","_colorIndex":1},{"data":[256,437,662,760,717],"name":"Sewage treatment","_colorIndex":2}],"title":{"text":"Sabesps investment plan"},"subtitle":{"text":"2015-2019"},"credits":{"text":"Source: BNamericas.com with data from Sabesp","href":"http://www.bnamericas.com/en/data-stats","style":{"fontSize":"11px"}},"exporting":{"enabled":true}}'; var json_grafico = JSON.parse(grafico); json_grafico.chart.renderTo="graficodiv1868"; var graficarlo = new Highcharts.Chart(json_grafico); Cajobi's contract with Sabesp actually expired in 2006, but it was only able to cancel services in 2013. Sabesp, however, is also claiming that investments in the municipality have not yet been recovered. Embaúba, which was previously a neighborhood of Cajobi, also wants to break free of any contract with the utility and wants to provide its own services. Iperó's contract expired in 2009 but a definitive agreement to cancel its contract with Sabesp is not scheduled until 2016. And finally, Macatuba's contract expired in 2011 and it is still trying to cut ties with the company.

  • Sabesp working to keep multi-billion dollar contracts

    São Paulo state water utility Sabesp is currently working on maintaining 55 waterworks concession contracts that brought in a total of 6.3bn reais (US$2.0bn) in revenue during the first quarter of this year. Negotiations are taking place on all of those contracts and, according to the utility, not one of them will be lost, local paper Valor Econômico reported. By 2030, another 37 contracts are set to will expire. RURAL TOWNS SEEKING TO BREAK TIES WITH SABESP The report highlighted five rural towns which want to cut their ties with Sabesp, namely Álvares Florence Cajobi, Embaúba, Iperó, and Macatuba. Between January and March, Sabesp's contracts with the latter four towns produced a total of 11.3mn reais for the company. Álvares Florence has already cancelled its service with Sabesp and since 2012 water services have been managed by private water concessionaire Datema Ambiental, but Sabesp is still seeking 8mn reais from the town for municipal investments for which it has not yet received compensation. [GRAFICO:FIGURA:ID_1868] var grafico = '{"colors":["#001b96","#f78e1e","#181818","#8ec4fb","#fabb78","#2577cb","#d9d9d9","#1281b4","#7d7d7d","#3349ab","#0f648b","#343434"],"chart":{"renderTo":"chart_plotted","type":"column"},"plotOptions":{"column":{"stacking":"normal"}},"xAxis":{"categories":[2015,2016,2017,2018,2019]},"yAxis":{"title":{"text":"mn reais"}},"series":[{"data":[1518,1919,907,711,563],"name":"Water","_colorIndex":0},{"data":[587,544,1255,1255,1427],"name":"Sewage collection","_colorIndex":1},{"data":[256,437,662,760,717],"name":"Sewage treatment","_colorIndex":2}],"title":{"text":"Sabesps investment plan"},"subtitle":{"text":"2015-2019"},"credits":{"text":"Source: BNamericas.com with data from Sabesp","href":"http://www.bnamericas.com/en/data-stats","style":{"fontSize":"11px"}},"exporting":{"enabled":true}}'; var json_grafico = JSON.parse(grafico); json_grafico.chart.renderTo="graficodiv1868"; var graficarlo = new Highcharts.Chart(json_grafico); Cajobi's contract with Sabesp actually expired in 2006, but it was only able to cancel services in 2013. Sabesp, however, is also claiming that investments in the municipality have not yet been recovered. Embaúba, which was previously a neighborhood of Cajobi, also wants to break free of any contract with the utility and wants to provide its own services. Iperó's contract expired in 2009 but a definitive agreement to cancel its contract with Sabesp is not scheduled until 2016. And finally, Macatuba's contract expired in 2011 and it is still trying to cut ties with the company.

  • Zero rating dominates Brazil's net neutrality consultations

    As expected, zero rating deals, also known as sponsored access or sponsored internet, were the most commented-upon topic in the public consultation processes opened in Brazil to discuss possible exceptions to the network neutrality rule. Zero rating is the offer of free access to certain websites and applications, such as Facebook or WhatsApp, based on commercial agreements between operators and the corresponding companies. Brazilian telecoms watchdog Anatel's consultation came to an end on May 19 after receiving dozens of comments since April 1. Most of them addressed the question of whether the offer of zero rating deals by operators would clash with net neutrality or not. In Chile, local legislation bans zero rating offers on the understanding that they are in conflict with net neutrality. The net neutrality concept, under which no content or access can be favored or discriminated against on the internet, has been enshrined in Brazil's internet "constitution", the Marco Civil da Internet, which came into force last year. The same law, however, allowed for possible exceptions to the concept, as long as they fall under technical and emergency services. Such exceptions will be regulated via a presidential decree after consultation with Anatel, communications ministry MiniCom and CGI.br, which is a multi-stakeholder body formed by members of academia, the general public, the technical community and government officials. Opinions in the consultation process were divided between those claiming the terms of neutrality exceptions should be generic and should not be too specific, and others saying that zero rating is a commercial model that is in line with the law, while others claim that the practice entails preferential treatment for certain applications. Among the entities that submitted comments to Anatel were the GSM association (GSMA), Brazilian telcos association (SindiTelebrasil), Brazil's electrical and electronics industry association (Abinee), ICT industry association Brasscom, equipment manufacturers and consumer protection agencies, among others. In the consultation carried out by CGI.br which ended in February after receiving 138 submissions, zero rating deals were also the hottest topic. Brazil's justice ministry, although not among the original bodies that had to be consulted by the president on the neutrality exceptions, also carried out a consultation process. It ended last month with more than 1,200 comments on the online platform. The material will now be compiled and sent to the presidential office for assessment.

  • Minsur to cut capex 15% amid price slump

    Peru's Minsur, which last week posted a second straight quarterly loss due to rising costs and slumping prices, aims to cut 2015 sustaining capex by about 15%, CFO Gianflavo Carozzi said. The company originally planned to invest US$15-20mn at its San Rafael tin mine and Pisco smelter in Peru; US$8-12mn at the Pucamarca gold mine, and US$30-35mn at the Pitinga tin mine in Brazil. Spending on a pre-feasibility study at its Mina Justa copper project in Peru will also be slashed by 18% this year, according to the company. "Due to the current price context, obviously we're going to be streamlining this capital," Carozzi said Tuesday on a conference call to discuss first quarter results. "We expect to close the year at the low end of this range, which means US$50mn, and I expect it to be even lower than that." The company, which sold US$450mn in 10-year bonds last year, has also hired a consultant to boost production and increase recovery rates at Pitinga without having to make significant capex investments, CEO Juan Luis Kruger said. The Pucamarca mine is on track produce 10% more than its original 2015 guidance of 95,000-105,000oz gold as the company secured permits earlier than expected to increase plant capacity to 21,000t/d from 17,500t/d, Kruger said. The company expects to meet its production goal of 20,000-22,000t tin and 2,000-3,000t niobium-tantalum alloy this year, he said. Total tin output from Minsur's mines in Peru and Brazil fell 22% to 5,883t in the quarter, according to the company's consolidated earnings statement. Gold production at Pucamarca climbed 1% to 28,778oz, while niobium-tantalum output at Pitinga rose 16% to 679t. Minsur's posted a consolidated first quarter net loss of US$15.1mn, compared with a US$49mn profit a year earlier, as sales fell 30% to US$170mn due to rising costs and slumping tin prices and production.

  • Brazil satellite tender brings in 70% above reserve price

    Brazil collected some 183.7mn reais (US$60mn) from the auction of four satellite positions in a tender held by telecoms regulator Anatel this Tuesday (May 26). This total was 30mn reais more than the amount earned in the last satellite tender, held in May 2014. "The result of the auction shows that investors believe in the potential of the telecommunications market in Brazil," Anatel president João Rezende said in a statement. The amount collected for the four satellite positions was 70% above the established reserve price, while the revenues collected in last year's auction were 213% higher than the reserve price. This tender also marked the entrance of two new players in the Brazilian market: Canada's Telesat and Star Satellite Communications Company, from the United Arab Emirates. Telesat bought the first and second positions, paying 42.5mn reais and 46.8mn reais, respectively, some 56.8% and 72.9% higher than the respective reserve prices. Star Satellite acquired the third position for 44.1mn reais, paying 62.7% more than the minimum, while Spain's Hispamar, which already operates in the local market, spend 50.2mn reais (85.6% more than the reserve) for the final one.

  • Peru to award Lima airport expansion land in December

    The Lima Airport Partners consortium will receive in December land around Lima's Jorge Chávez airport needed for an expansion project, Peru's transport and communications minister, José Gallardo, said. Technical studies for a second runway will also be ready by the end of the year, in addition to a 960m tunnel beneath Néstor Gambetta avenue in Callao which will ease traffic congestion around the airport, Gallardo said. Work is expected to get underway on the airport expansion, which includes a second terminal, in February 2016, according to the ministry. A 30ha plot of land for cargo logistics neighboring the airport will be awarded in the second half of 2016, he said. "We'll have everything coordinated in December," Gallardo told state gazette El Peruano. In related news, the ministry aims to award concessions to operate the Jauja, Jaén and Huánuco airports, in addition to the ports of Ilo, Salaverry, Chimbote and Marcona, he said. Rail Line No.1 of the Lima metro needs an additional 20 trains with six carriages each to guarantee trains can run every 90 seconds during peak times, he said. Trains with five carriages currently run every six minutes, he added. Additional contract clauses were signed to grant greater timetable flexibility to the operators of line No.2 of the metro, he said. Work is nearly finished on a feasibility study for line No.3, according to Gallardo. The ministry this year will also award the Huancavelica-Huancayo railway concession, in addition to completing technical studies for a trans-Andean Lima-Huancayo railway, he said. ROADS The government aims to award the 2.500bn-sol (US$795mn) Sullana-Piura coastal highway in the north and the 1.100bn-sol Ica-Arequipa road in the south, he said. The government has received a co-financing proposal for the first project, he added. The ministry has eliminated bureaucratic obstacles to seven infrastructure projects totaling 18bn soles this year, while contract clauses will shortly clear the way for another 4.5bn soles, he said. HOUSING The government plans to invest an additional 300mn soles in housing subsidies for low-income families this year, housing and construction minister Milton von Hesse told reporters in Lima. Families earning less than 1,860 soles a month will receive an additional 10,000 housing bonuses this year ranging from 8,855-19,250 soles. The government has invested 6.250bn soles in 147,000 homes through the Techo Propio and MiVivienda programs since 2011, benefitting 660,000 Peruvians, according to the ministry.

  • DirecTV, Inc.

    DirecTV is a California-based provider of digital television entertainment services. Through its subsidiaries and affiliated companies in the US, Brazil, Mexico and other Latin American countries, it provides digital television service to more than 35mn customers. Founded in 1990, the company is composed of three main operating units, DirecTV US, DIRECTV Sports Networks (DSN) and DirecTV Latin America (DTVLA). Through the latter, the firm controls Sky Brasil, Sky México and PanAmericana, which covers most of the remaining regional countries. In 2014, the company and AT&T reached a merger agreement that still needs approval from the US Department of Justice and the US Federal Communications Commission, as well as by certain international regulatory bodies.

  • What Chile's new foreign investment rules mean for operators

    Foreign-based mining companies operating in Chile might speed up investments to take advantage of a recent congressional decision granting an additional four years of tax stability after revoking the DL 600 tax provision, according to Alicia Domínguez, EY Chile's mining and metals tax leader. "I think it's possible, as a foreign investment contract can be signed long before the development of a project," Domínguez told BNamericas at the sidelines of EY's III Latin American Mining & Metals tax forum being held in capital Santiago. The government scrapped the DL 600 provision of the country's foreign investment law as part of the vast tax reform signed by President Michelle Bachelet last year. The provision has been credited with attracting investment in the 1980s by including a non-discrimination guarantee for foreign investors and a complaint resolution mechanism to ensure its effectiveness. As a result of its positive impact, DL 600 was used heavily by the mining industry, as it contains a clause that guarantees tax stability, applicable to mining projects worth at least US$50mn, and grants the investor a fixed corporate income tax rate for 10 years. After deciding to scrap the provision, a committee was called to issue recommendations for new foreign investment rules, which were sent to congress in January. Last week, the lower house voted in favor of an amended version of the bill, which established a four-year transitory rule under the same conditions as DL 600. "The good news is that during that four-year window [companies] will be able to continue signing foreign investment contracts with this special tax invariability for the mining industry," said Domínguez. She added that companies have eight years to make the investments once the special contract has been signed, which in theory gives a company with a contract signed at the end of the four-year window (in 2019) until 2027 to carry out the investment. Once the company has decided to make that investment a reality, it will have 12 years of tax stability, said the EY specialist. The bill now awaits President Bachelet's signature to become law.

  • Telefónica: Chile R&D center likely to yield IoT products this year

    Multinational telco Telefónica believes its new Internet of Things (IoT) research & development center in Chile could yield commercially viable industry solutions before year-end, R&D center general manager Hernán Orellana told press. Telefónica put the facility together 18 months ago with an investment of US$24mn and assistance from Chilean business development agency Corfo and local university Universidad del Desarrollo (UDD) for the first four years of the project. The firm expects to add 18 members of staff to the current total of 25 researchers and data scientists during the remainder of this year, but does not envisage further investment beyond the initial US$24mn. Ideally, in the short term other firms will award contracts to Telefónica R&D to pursue projects in their area, which could bypass the need for further in-house investment, Orellana told BNamericas. Already, the research center is in contact with some 170 other universities and innovation centers in Chile that have potential for collaboration, including initiatives like Startup Chile and Social Lab. Based on global estimates of the IoT business opportunity, Telefónica estimates that the market in Chile alone is worth US$50bn to US$60bn over the next 20 years. "That's if Chile does as well as the average performance seen globally. We could do an above average job of R&D and generate human capital, which would produce much more benefit," Orellana noted. For the time being the center is focused on projects in the mining, agriculture and smart city categories, and it is too early to give concrete examples of the financial benefits that can be achieved through increased productivity and efficiency. "For now our data scientists are developing models with historic data, and at the same time developing our analytics system. We're also testing the sensors that can be used for this, and the connectivity systems. At some point this will all come together in the FIWARE platform," Orellana said, referring to a standardized platform that is optimized for the input of open data, allowing third parties to feed into it and use it. The executive could not say whether Telefónica would replicate the center in other Latin American markets, since the firm fully intends to export solutions from this facility to neighboring markets. However, he did note that large markets such as Brazil certainly have sufficient capacity to justify replicating the model. While Telefónica has been involved in IoT research for many years - including its Wayra venture, which occupies the same building - the difference now is that Telefónica Chile is spearheading development of entirely new knowledge and technology, whereas in the past its Chilean R&D division was dedicated more to applying existing knowledge to new fields, center staff added.

  • Chile inks acccord with Huawei to build space data center

    Chile has signed an agreement with Chinese tech giant Huawei to build the first data center in Latin America designed specifically for housing data collected from space. The agreement was signed during the visit to Chile of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The signatories were Chile's President Michelle Bachelet; Darcy Fuenzalida, rector of the Federico Santa María Technical University; Zhao Gang, deputy and director of the Chinese Academy of Science; and Qin Hua, CEO of Huawei Chile. The data center will be key in housing data regarding scientific and technological development and areas of research, including agriculture, medicine, mining and geology. Chile is behind some of its neighbours in the region in terms of its space agenda, with the likes of Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico and Venezuela all having launched satellites designed for research and telecommunications. Chile does have an air force called Fasat-Charlie that was launched four years ago and is used mainly for taking aerial photographs. The country is now in the process of defining what its space agenda will be, telecoms regulator Subtel's head Pedro Huichalaf told BNamericas in a recent interview. Huichalaf is head of a committee of ministers in charge of the space program. Chile has been extending its bilateral relations in technology matters with various Asian nations in the past few months, having signed technological cooperation agreements with both South Korea and Japan in April. China has been on a something of an investment tour of South America over the last week. Last week China signed preliminary agreements with Brazil to invest more than US$53bn in Brazilian infrastructure, such as mining, energy, transport logistics and manufacturing. Premier Li Keqiang also visited Colombia before heading to Chile. Chile and Chinese company Huawei sign an agreement to build a center for space data (CREDIT: Chilean government)

  • Tsimin-Xux Basin

    The Tsimin-Xux super-light oil basin was discovered in 2010 by Pemex. Development plan for the basin is to bring in new generation platforms and drilling equipment to spud the Tsimin and Xux fields simultaneously. It expects to drill 43 development wells, perform two major repairs of exploratory wells and perform 145 minor repairs over the life of the project. New infrastructure at the project will include two receiving and processing facilities near the fields. Proven reserves at the basin are currently estimated at 239Mb crude and 1.5Tf3 gas. Pemex has committed to spending US$6.09bn through 2020 to develop the resources. First production is expected by 2015, and peak production is scheduled for 2019 at 144,000b/d of oil and 663M3/d of natural gas.

  • Chile health services debt grows

    Chile's health services are sinking deeper into debt, local paper La Tercera reported, citing health ministry figures. The combined operational debt of the country's health services hit 155bn pesos (US$254mn) in April compared with 92bn pesos in March 2014, when the current government took office. But almost half of the current debt was carried over from 2014 and relates to invoices from that year, and prior to then, the ministry had not paid off, ministry official Hugo Peña was reported as saying. "We are regularizing the situation, paying bills even from previous years," he was quoted as saying. According to BNamericas' latest infrastructure IS report, Chile has less than half the number of hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants than the average of OECD countries, many of the establishments are more than 30 years old and much of the equipment is obsolete, and the country has a hospital infrastructure deficit of around US$5.5bn for the next 10 years. Last year, Chile's President Michelle Bachelet unveiled plans to build or revamp 61 hospitals at a cost of US$4bn over the next four years.

  • Bancomext poised to provide energy project financing

    Mexico's foreign trade bank Bancomext is preparing to finance oil and gas projects in the country, according to the bank's chief executive Enrique de la Madrid Cordero (pictured). The bank is already financing renewable energy and natural gas pipeline projects as well as firms supplying state-owned oil company Pemex, the executive was quoted by state news agency Notimex as saying during a Latin American banking summit in Cancún. De la Madrid said Mexico's energy reform will have the greatest impact of all the reforms implemented so far by the current government, as it is "detonating investment in different areas, among them gas pipelines." Given the opportunity to import cheap natural gas from the US and the demand for that fuel in Mexico, Bancomext is financing part of the Los Ramones pipeline, which will run from Texas to the central state of Guanajuato, and will support investment in projects to supply natural gas to the country's west coast. He said Bancomext has not yet defined concrete projects for the energy sector. Bancomext's portfolio of private energy sector financing increased from 2.77bn pesos (US$181mn) in 2013 to 7.9bn pesos (US$516mn) in 2014. De la Madrid said the bank is paying close attention to the tender processes resulting from the energy reform to provide capital and financing as projects require it. "The energy reform, even with low oil prices, will be an important business generator," according to the executive. "Mexico has an enormous energy demand and, as the economy grows, it will require more, and access to cheaper energy will in turn drive economic growth."

  • Venezuela imposes first solidarity insurance-related sanction

    Venezuela's insurance regulator, Sudeaseg, imposed its first sanction against an unnamed local insurer for failing to issue a minimum number of so-called solidarity insurance policies, according to a release by the watchdog. Solidarity insurance is aimed at people with a monthly salary below 25UT (tax units, equivalent to 3,175 bolívares or US$504) with a pre-existing health condition or disability, as well as retirees and people over 60 years of age. Venezuelan insurers are required to offer and issue solidarity insurance to anyone who falls into one of the above categories. A minimum limit is assigned to each insurer for various lines, including health, personal accident and funeral coverage. The minimum sanction for failing to reach the minimum policy target is a fine of 5,000UT, or 635,000 bolívares. The legislation governing solidarity insurance was published in March 2013.

  • Former Petrobras director jailed for 5 years

    Former Petrobras director Nestor Cerveró (pictured) has been sentenced to five years in prison for his role in a graft scheme at the Brazilian state-run oil company. Cerveró was found guilty of money laundering by federal judge Sergio Moro during a court session in the southern city of Curitiba on Tuesday. Prosecutors successfully claimed that Cerveró bought a US$2.5mn beachside apartment in Rio de Janeiro to hide "the natural criminal origin" of cash siphoned from Petrobras contracts. Moro also ordered the apartment be sold and the funds handed back to Petrobras. Cerveró is one of three former Petrobras executives to have been arrested as part of the so-called Car Wash probe. Authorities say the investigation aims to dismantle an elaborate bribery and money laundering ring involving Petrobras directors, construction firm executives and high-ranking politicians. Cerveró was Petrobras' international director from 2003 to 2008. He headed the firm's distribution division before being sacked in March last year. The 65-year-old has also been accused of signing off on Petrobras' US$1.25bn purchase of the Pasadena oil refinery in the US. The 2006 acquisition came a year after the refinery's previous owner, Belgian trader Transcor Astra, reportedly paid US$42.5mn for the facility. In another case, Cerveró was charged by prosecutors in December for allegedly accepting bribes from Samsung Heavy Industries for an offshore drillship deal.

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