Ready to Invest in Venezuela? Banker Ponders $3 Billion Fund

(Bloomberg) -- Maynard Holt is already thinking about how you can invest in Venezuela.

The chief executive officer of Houston-based energy investment bank Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. said Wednesday he’s exploring the formation of a fund as big as $3 billion to invest in Venezuela one day after fielding a question about it at an industry conference.

Holt was asked by a moderator at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference what he would need if a fund was formed to pump capital into the troubled Latin American country. He sees a connection between the Lone Star State, home to the world’s busiest shale patch, and Venezuela, home to the world’s biggest oil reserves.

“Caracas could be Midland, Texas,” Holt said Wednesday in an interview, referring to the oil boom town at the heart of prolific Permian Basin. “We think that Houston is tied to oil and gas, they’re 100 percent tied to oil and gas.”

Ready to Invest in Venezuela? Banker Ponders $3 Billion Fund

Holt said he’s thinking about where the money would come from, how such a fund would be financially structured and who would lead it. He said it would need to be larger that $1 billion to have the kind of impact needed in Venezuela. Holt sees this as an opportunity for the sometimes maligned oil industry to do good by helping Venezuela.

Shutting Wells

Schlumberger Ltd., the world’s biggest oil-services provider, said at CERAWeek on Tuesday that there hasn’t been any new investment in Venezuela for a long time. Ashok Belani, executive vice president at the Houston- and Paris-based company, said in an interview that thousands of wells have had to shut off because there aren’t enough tanks for storage.

Venezuelan output has fallen by more than half since late 2015 while production from the Permian, which is in West Texas and New Mexico, has more than doubled in that time.

Holt said he hadn’t considered starting a fund for Venezuela prior to the conference, but said he received a lot of positive feedback on Wednesday from people who heard him speak on the panel.

“What was an interesting question in a panel may be something that needs to be done, whether it’s us or someone else,” he said. “We are stewing on it. If you told me a month ago that we would be having this conversation, I’d say, ‘Wow, I could not have seen that one coming.’"

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