If you were wondering what country has the worlds cheapest gas, the answer is Venezuela.
It is so cheap that an Aruban taxi driver sails to Venezuelas Paraguana Peninsula from the Dutch Caribbean at least once a week, loading as much as 104 gallons of Venezuelan gasoline into numerous small containers at a cost of $120.
The driver spoke to the Bloomburg News on the condition of anonymity because what hes doing is illegal. The trip is only 18 miles so Venezuelas prices make the trip worth it every time. The taxi driver saves $3.09 per gallon and after expenses add up, that equals 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. But in Aruba, gasoline costs about $4.24 a gallon at Texaco and Valero service stations.
Venezuela relies on oil exports for almost 96 percent of foreign currency earnings for two reasons: Venezuela boasts the worlds biggest crude reserves and fuel prices havent risen in 19 years. Venezuelan government television advertisements point out that it costs 35 times more to produce gasoline than current pump prices.
The last time fuel price increases were attempted was in 1989. This sparked protests that swept across the nation, which only helped Hugo Chavezs rise to power.
Currency devaluations and the worlds highest inflation at 64 percent have pushed down the cost in dollar terms and prompted smuggling to Colombia and other Caribbean countries.
Even closing that gap wouldnt be enough to stop smuggling to neighboring countries, said Carlos Rossi, president of EnergyNomics, in an interview from Caracas on Feb. 6.
Fuel smuggling is of high concern to the government of Aruba because there are safety and tax issues to consider.
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, said Maria Dijkhoff-Pita, an officer in Arubas Department of Economic Affairs.
Arubas economy runs off of tourism and offshore banking. More than 1.5 million tourists visit annually, three-quarters of which come from the U.S. Tourism represents more than 80 percent of the countrys economic activity, according to CIA World Factbook data.