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September 25, 2020
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Venezuela ends with “free” fuel and introduces payments at Petro Blocksats

After months of fuel shortages due to financial sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration, the Venezuelan government made a surprising policy change: it ended its long-standing practice of subsidizing gasoline, which made fuel essentially free.

After the changes, the price of gasoline increased from almost zero to 5000 bolivars per liter, or about 10 grosze. Interestingly, Venezuelans will be able to pay at the gas station with the state cryptocurrency Petro (PTR).

Gas stations must accept Petro cryptocurrency

Nicolas Maduro’s government has ordered all gas stations around the country to accept Petro cryptocurrency as payment for fuel. The administration has placed an ad on Petro official website and announced that in addition to the token, payments could also be made in euros and dollars to “guarantee safe access to fuel for the public”.

However, there is a catch …

However, there is a catch. The announcement says Venezuelans will not be able to use the Petro App, Petro’s only digital wallet. Instead, fuel purchases must be made “using the available Patria Wallet electronic mechanisms through the Biopago system.” Biopago is a biometric payment system developed by the largest bank of Venezuela.

This may be problematic for Venezuelans wanting to use Petro to refuel. Patria is a platform through which the government of Venezuela pays social benefits to its citizens. It also allows Venezuelans to receive major cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin from abroad. However, for now, this platform is not compatible with the Petro-enabled wallet.

Price difference between exchanges and the Patria system

It can also complicate matters for traders who earn on price differences between exchanges. Petro available on local exchanges are compatible with PetroWallet. At the same time, the Patria platform uses predetermined rates for its operation, which are much higher than on other exchanges.

Despite the variation, Petro’s price responded positively and increased by around 40% on local stock exchanges, reaching a peak of 2.6 million bolivars (around $ 13). However, this level is still significantly lower than $ 46 in the Patria system or $ 58.5 in the official Petro calculator.

For now, fuel costs in public transport will remain 100% subsidized, and the inhabitants of Venezuela will be limited to 120 liters per month per vehicle. Although the price of 10 groszy per liter of fuel may seem very attractive to us, it is worth remembering that the minimum wage in Venezuela is still less than PLN 20 per month.

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