A frugal taxi driver who transports tourists around the Dutch Caribbean saves $17,000 each year by illegally getting his gasoline from Venezuela.
Every week, the Aruban driver goes 18 miles to the Paraguana Peninsula of Venezuela to save $3.09 on each gallon after trip expenses, he told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity. He can transport as many as 104 gallons of fuel using many small containers.
Holding the biggest reserves of crude oil on the planet, Venezuela has had steady fuel prices for 19 years and boasts the world's cheapest gas.
"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," Bloomberg reported. "Gasoline costs about $4.24 a gallon at Texaco and Valero service stations in Aruba."
The Aruban government is aware that locals are smuggling fuel from Venezuela, an officer in Aruba's Department of Economic Affairs told Bloomberg.
People who take Venezuelan fuel elsewhere would need to pay duties and follow regulations for containment, Maria Dijkhoff-Pita told Bloomberg.
"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.
The Aruban economy depends on offshore banking and the tourist trade, while Venezuela heavily relies on exporting oil.
The cost of gas in Venezuela last rose in 1989, inciting protests. Along with inflation of 64 percent, the highest in the world, falling currency values have pulled down the price of fuel and furthered smuggling to nearby countries.