Monthly Archives: September 2012

Coincidences: Another refinery fire in Venezuela

From Noticias24, click for whole collection.

I was traveling and missed the horror in Mexico, a fire that left 30 dead and 16 injured. It was inexcusable, and in serious need of independent investigation.

But my specialty is South America, and when I see this, I am reminded that every major refinery fire related to lightning that I’ve heard about in the last few years has been in a PDVSA facility. Recall these ones.

No, it’s not coincidence. There is at least as much lightning in Houston as anywhere in Venezuela. The difference between the many oil facilities elsewhere in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico vs. Venezuela is that in Venezuela, work doesn’t go to the lowest bidder and then inspected. Instead, many contracts are given out based on who pays the best commissions to corrupt officials at PDVSA. There are people who know who had the contract to provide lightning protection to these facilities. What’s the company’s name?

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Pacific Rubiales’ capture of Colombian mass media continues (Updated with photos)

Back in March, Area Minera had this fascinating article about how Pacific Rubiales Corp.*, Colombia’s biggest private-sector oil company, had moved into an unexpected line of business. Here’s a bit of it translated for your pleasure:

… the biggest surprise is how the owners of Pacific Rubiales Energy have decided to enter mass communications. Today, they hold 19% of the stock of the channel Cablenoticias, property of their countryman Alberto Federico Ravell. Until a few days ago, they had shares of the daily El Tiempo, but sold their property to the banker Luis Carlos Sarmiento. They are also frequent advertisers in well known radio, print and television outlets.

(* Update: To be clear, they are talking about the owners, not the company. I don’t know if the company itself has any media holdings.)

Yesterday, top-notch Colombian journalism site La Silla Vacia runs this story, titled “Pacific Rubiales, the Media and Power.” I’ve translated the whole brief for your convenience, with permission from author Lucas Ospina. Continue reading

Talisman in Peru (or not)

Otto at IKN has what you need to know about Talisman Energy’s departure from the promising hydrocarbons province of Peru. If you want to know anything and everything about the international opposition to Talisman’s work in the Peruvian rain forest, you can see a lot in English here. No, that’s not a perfectly balanced view of the situation, but Talisman’s departure shows that the Amazon Watch version is closer to reality than the company version.

Puerto Rico asphalt company sues Arevenca, Madasi, Miguel Lausell for $13.6 million

Arevenca, the fake oil company long documented in these pages for its deceptive web site and involvement in a failed airline in Aruba, is being sued along with several people who allegedly acted as salesmen for a scam in Puerto Rico. The Betteroads Asphalt Corp. alleges in a suit filed Sept. 4 in the US territory that it bought a cargo of asphalt from Arevenca following a sales pitch by prominent Puerto Rico businessman Miguel Lausell on behalf of local Arevenca representative Madasi Oil Co. The suit accuses Arevenca, Madasi and individuals including Lausell of fraud and breach of contract and demands a refund of $7.8 million that Betteroads spent on asphalt and another $5.8 million in other damages.

Betteroads, according to the complaint and a series of e-mails filed with the court, thought that the $7.8 million it sent to the Swiss bank account of Arevenca would entitle it to a tanker of asphalt, and was disappointed to find that tanker-loads of excuses, lies and delays were wholly inadequate for the task of resurfacing highways and parking lots even in the magical realm of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. After months spent arguing with various representatives of Arevenca, including company president Francisco Javier González Álvarez, Lausell, and others, Betteroads has turned to the court systems of the United States, which seems to be the end-point of many conflicts involving shady Caribbean and Venezuelan operators. Continue reading