Oil spills as jobs program? (PDVSA, Chevron, a rant)

Kepler points us to this depressing story about new oil spills in Anzoategui state, Venezuela.

Puerto La Cruz.- Two new oil spills were recorded at the beginning of the week in the La Peña sector of El Tigre…which caused the local population to block roads and to warn that if (state oil company) PDVSA doesn’t form teams as promised on Monday, they will take further actions.

Yes, you read it right — the big issue for the locals isn’t that there’s a damn oil spill, it’s that the oil company hasn’t yet hired locals to help clean up.

More of the article below. For now here are pictures I have taken in oilfields in Anzoategui.

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The story continues:

The spills in Anzoategui affected the Bare 1 and Bare 4 flow stations … 40 km from El Tigre. Delays have been recorded in the access roads to (PDVSA-Chevron joint venture) Petropiar, two days in a row… Evelyn Evans, one of the demonstrators, said she hoped that when it came time to form clean-up teams, the company would consider the local homesteaders. She said they are protesting because they’ve talked about this scenario with the oil industry, in search of work, without positive results.

PDVSA’s Orinoco Oil Belt Division said in a bulletin that from the first moment of the incidents, it created a multidisciplinary team from environment, industrial safety, maintenance, security, operations and legal teams, to go after the leaks.

Based on the presence of the legal team, I wonder if we are seeing oil theft of the Nigeria, Colombia and Mexico style here. But yes, this is El Universal, we won’t get answers from the Venezuelan press. Onward:

The industry said it is keeping clean 600 square meters of the area, and while it’s fixed the leaks to keep the crude from dispersing, the rains aren’t helping and the fluid has spread. Monday it will form clean-up teams.

Now, time for those of you who don’t care for rants to go away. This is a rare special plea to my friends at Amazon Watch and the other groups that are all over Chevron for the Ecuador rain forest disaster: wake up. Venezuela is every bit as biologically important as the Ecuadorian Amazon. And while feather-wearing indigenous groups aren’t directly affected by most of these spills, it’s a bit of a fine point, since local communities that have lived in an area for hundreds of years should also matter, no matter their percentage of native Amerindian blood. I can only speculate that you’re scared that your San Francisco donor base won’t give to a campaign that impugns the Bolivarian Revolution. But it shouldn’t matter. If this stuff were happening in a corporate oilfield anywhere else on Earth, be it permafrost (1.9 acres!), sand dunes, or the deep-water Atlantic, you’d be lining up to clean up, send analysis teams, sue, condemn, denounce, boycott and otherwise halt the destruction. But it’s happening in Venezuela, which for the price of a few red T-shirts has apparently become untouchable by anyone who has ever nodded with approval to a Woody Guthrie lyric. Get over it. Venezuela is no workers’ paradise. If anything it’s the place in the Western Hemisphere where a bit of environmentalist pressure could do the most good. Unlike Alaska, California or Brazil, the Venezuelan government is not going to seek the responsible parties and make them conduct a years-long clean-up and remediation project, but the government is sensitive to its public image in the international left.

Before you go back to sitting on your hands, why not scroll back up and look at those portraits of birds that live in an Anzoategui oil field, and explain to yourself why they matter less than birds in Alaska, California, Brazil or Ecuador.

2 thoughts on “Oil spills as jobs program? (PDVSA, Chevron, a rant)

  1. Kepler

    Thanks, Steven, for putting the effort and providing many more details than what the Venezuelan press delivers.
    It shouldn’t really matter, but actually most people in that area have a strong native American component, a bit more than the average Venezuelan. They are descendants of mostly Chaima and Karina (all Carib) Indians mixed with lots of Spaniards and African slaves. But it should be the same, they are all humans and that land is a biodiversity treasure.

    Beautiful pictures you have there.

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