This Taxi Driver’s Business Secret: Bootleg Venezuelan Gas

Image courtesy of J B

Technically, gas in Venezuela is even cheaper than this. (J B)

Technically, gas in Venezuela is even cheaper than this. (J B)

When you live on an island, things that have to be imported are expensive. For example, on the Caribbean island of Aruba, gasoline costs more than $4 per gallon. That would make it fairly expensive to be a full-time taxi driver, wouldn’t it? Yes, if it weren’t for one driver’s brilliant yet illegal trade secret: sailing to Venezuela with a bunch of gas cans.

Bloomberg Businessweek outlined this scam after meeting the driver. It’s pretty simple: he sails to Venezuela maybe once a week with a whole lot of small containers, then fills them at the national gas price of 1/5 of a U.S. penny per gallon. Yes, that is the actual price.

Venezuela has a few strange accidents of history going for it leading to that gas price: first, they’re a country with vast oil reserves. Second, they have a socialist government that heavily subsidizes their gas production. Third, economic crises have led to inflation that has devalued their currency compared to other countries, making Venezuela a really great place to pick up some cheap gas.

The taxi driver, who already makes decent money since he mostly drives American tourists around, says that he saves around $17,000 a year by making these very illegal trips to Venezuela.

How an Aruba Taxi Driver Saves $17,000 Bootlegging Venezuela Gas [Bloomberg Business]