I stumbled across a very interesting article. It does not say where Aruba purchases gasoline.
How an Aruba Taxi Driver Saves $17,000 Bootlegging Venezuela Gas
February 12, 2015
(Bloomberg) -- How does an Aruban taxi driver who shuttles mostly U.S. visitors around the Dutch Caribbean save $17,000 a year? By sailing to Venezuela to buy the world’s cheapest fuel. The driver, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because what he’s doing is illegal, said he makes the 18-mile trip to Venezuela’s Paraguana Peninsula at least once a week, loading as much as 104 gallons of Venezuelan gasoline into numerous small containers at a cost of $120. The $3.09 a gallon he saves after expenses on each trip adds up to almost $17,000 a year.
In Venezuela, 95-octane fuel costs 0.097 bolivar a liter, or about a fifth of a U.S. penny a gallon using the black market rate of 186 bolivars a dollar. Gasoline costs about $4.24 a gallon at Texaco and Valero service stations in Aruba.
Fuel prices in Venezuela, which boasts the world’s biggest crude reserves, haven’t risen in 19 years after increases in 1989 sparked protests that swept across the nation, helping precipitate Hugo Chavez’s rise to power. Currency devaluations and the world’s highest inflation at 64 percent have pushed down the cost in dollar terms and prompted smuggling to Colombia and other Caribbean countries.
With safety and tax issues to consider, fuel smuggling from Venezuela by locals including fishermen “has the attention of the government of Aruba,” Maria Dijkhoff-Pita, an officer in Aruba’s Department of Economic Affairs, said.
People bringing in Venezuelan gasoline by boat would need to pay duties and use containers that comply with regulations, she said, in an e-mailed response to questions.
“We suspect that they try to enter with some liters of gasoline in the tanks of the boats which is supposed to be for the use of the boat but instead are extracted from the tanks into containers on shore,” Dijkhoff-Pita said.
Venezuela’s Information Ministry and officials with state producer Petroleos de Venezuela SA didn’t respond to e-mails seeking comment about smuggling of Venezuelan gasoline to Aruba.
Officially, the island nation imports 75 to 80 million liters of gasoline a year, none of which comes from PDVSA, Dijkhoff-Pita said.
San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corp., which owns a 235,000 barrel-a-day refinery in San Nicolas, Aruba that has been idled since September 2012, has plans to dismantle it later this year if a buyer doesn’t emerge, Media Relations Vice President Bill Day said Jan. 20.
While the refinery will continue to operate as a petroleum and product storage terminal, Aruba’s government probably will continue to import gasoline to meet domestic demand.
Offshore banking and tourism are the mainstays of Aruba’s economy. With more than 1.5 million tourists visiting annually, three-quarters of whom come from the U.S., tourism represents more than 80 percent of the country’s economic activity, according to CIA World Factbook data.
Venezuela relies on oil exports for almost 96 percent of foreign currency earnings. Caracas-based PDVSA incurred $15.2 billion in non-recoverable expenses and costs in 2013 to maintain the country’s domestic fuel subsidy. Domestic fuel demand continues to increase as drivers have little incentive to change consumption habits.
The largest drop in crude oil prices since 2008 has raised concerns that Venezuela could default on dollar debt as foreign currency reserves decline and the economy contracts. Reducing gasoline subsidies is one of the options the government is considering to help it close its budget deficit.
Venezuelan government television advertisements point out that it costs 35 times more to produce gasoline than current pump prices. Even closing that gap wouldn’t be enough to stop smuggling to neighboring countries, Carlos Rossi, president of EnergyNomics, said in an interview from Caracas on Feb. 6.