Monthly Archives: August 2010

Chile mine collapse diagram

I don’t know why everyone searching for those terms is landing on my blog, but you should all be looking at this excellent graphic at La Tercera. Click the link, then click “Comenzar.”


Venezuela falls behind on new power plant goals

Memory, all alone in the moonlight.

Old-timers might remember this picture from the halcyon days of May. It shows the schedule for bringing new or restored generation on line in Venezuela over the course of 2010. The hand in this photo is the president of Venezuela.

The Centro Nacional de Gestion, Venezuela’s grid manager, published its July monthly report a few days ago. It tracks nominal generating capacity:
January 23,794.5 MW
July 24,413.4 MW
Change = 618.9 MW, a 2.6% increase

So the total incorporated this year is still less than what they said they had “inaugurated” by the end of April.

Venezuela faces looming threat of normalcy

OK not everywhere, but in a few areas:

The Isla refinery, operated by PDVSA, is supposed to start up Wednesday. I’m not holding my breath, as I don’t live downwind. If they can do it, that’s pretty nifty, the gigondo refinery has basically been idle since the end of February for lack of steam pressure from the adjacent “BOO plant,” a privatized utility plant. Mitsubishi and Mitsui managed the place so badly that even the usually chilled-out Curacao government and residents got sick of them and there is now nationalization talk in the air. Six months is a long time to be without your biggest productive business and biggest employer.

Don’t tell the newspapers, but I give Guri Lake about 10-12 days before they have to open the floodgates. As in, it’s full, no more room at the inn, dump that water into the (oops!) already swollen Orinoco. Before you write in, yes, I know: this doesn’t mean there’s a healthy and happy electricity situation in the Bolivarian Republic. Transmission is a mess, and the dam is only full because Sidor and Venalum remain basically shut down, and there is still rationing all over the rural west. Not the best way to save energy and dam water. Still, pretty impressive that here a few months ago there was worry that the dam would end the year at a lower level than it started. In fact it’s now at a higher water level than it ever attained in 2009.

Our now customary chart:

Election season is going, and it seems the so-called opposition is following my lead and not talking very much about the president. OMG is it possible there is more to Venezuela than one dude with two chins?

I’m not terribly worried about this normalcy threat. It’s always interesting times in Caracas.


All these mine disasters and elections and such are keeping me busy. Light posting for a while. If you’re in the north, enjoy the end of your summer vacation. If you’re in the south, welcome to spring. If neither? Get out and enjoy your perpetual summer. Hasta pronto.

The most snarkworthy?

I try to keep this site focused on oil and other natural resources but once in a while I need to snark off. Luckily I know Venezuela pretty well, and its veins of snarkery make the Orinoco Belt and Las Cristinas look like minor deposits. However there are governments in the Americas even more snarkworthy. The latest carload from the Honduran snarkmine:

The Lobo government is complaining that a gift from Venezuela of $100 million to help in disaster preparedness was “diverted” for use in the presidency. Continue reading

And there was much rejoicing

President with note from miners

Long-awaited (stolen from La Tercera, click for original)

Rescue efforts for the 33 miners trapped 700 meters (1/2 mile) underground for 17 days in CopiapĆ³, Chile paid off today. A drill with a 20-cm (8-inch) bit aiming for the workers’ refuge point popped through to a cavity. It was unclear whether it was another false hope — the last time a drill hit a cavern, it turned out to be full of rubble with no sign of life. The workers stopped the drill and banged on it. Soon enough they heard what sounded like people banging back at them. The voices of reason cautioned that the sounds could have been any number of things, but the drillers were convinced it was the miners. Ehey pulled out the drill bit so as to send down a camera and the first batch of relief — water, food, medicine. The drillbit came back with a baggie glued onto it, and inside the baggie a note: “Estamos bien en el refugio los 33.” That is, “We’re fine in the refuge the 33.”
Continue reading