Monthly Archives: July 2012

Colombia gets more mineral-dependent. Now, mineral extraction gets tougher.

Colombia’s in a bit of a tough spot on natural resource exploitation. (But who isn’t, right?) On the one hand, the economy is getting more mineral-dependent every year. Here’s a chart showing what Colombia’s exports are made of, according to the central bank. The inner ring is 1995. The outer ring is 2012, through May. The red part is minerals. Cocaine exports aren’t included. Minerals — including fossil fuels — now make up more than half of Colombia’s legal exports, up from less than 42% every year through 2010. In other words, industrial and agricultural exports are becoming less important to Colombia’s foreign trade.

I know, the bars' thickness or radius should reflect the nominal amount of trade in each year. Excel doesn't do that.

(Below, see a chart of the overall export figures — industry has actually been doing well, just that minerals are kicking its culo.)

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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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Gustavo Coronel nails PDVSA rig contracting irregularities

Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA is known for overpaying for some of its purchases, for two reasons. One is that many companies are sick of dealing with PDVSA’s late payments, and prefer to now deal with middlemen. The other reason is that PDVSA workers like to overpay if they can in turn receive kickbacks. It’s win-win for buyer and seller, with the only one being screwed the Venezuelan public. El pueblo, as it known locally.

Today, Gustavo Coronel posts a masterful deconstruction of the apparent overpayment for the Aban Pearl, a semisubmersible offshore drilling platform that PDVSA rented in 2008. The nice thing about investigating drilling contracts is that the machinery is so expensive that it is conventional for the owner of the equipment to disclose the day rate, or daily rental price. In the case of Coronel’s investigation, the price that PDVSA said it was paying was much higher than the price that the ship’s owners said they were getting. Money was disappearing somewhere along the way. He has been looking into it for years, and his results are very interesting. Continue reading

Algo pa leer: Wiki Anti Corrupción

This site has been a bit slow this past week, as I went off and did some paid work (hey, guy’s gotta eat) and this may continue for a while. If you’re eager for reading material about South American oil-fueled corruption (and hey, who isn’t) and can handle a bit of slang-free Spanish, go read “Wiki Anti-Corrupción,” where some anonymous writers are putting together epic, thousands-of-words-long explanations of various Venezuelan scandals, many of them in or connected to the oil industry. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of their writing, and I certainly can’t say they are without bias, but their contributions are fascinating. They certainly offer interested investigators a wealth of leads, if not conclusive proof of their allegations. Go check it out.