Tag Archives: bolivia

PDVSA boosts electricity supply, in Bolivia

Somehow I missed that PDVSA was building a power plant in Bolivia.

May 19 2014, Santa Cruz, Bolivia – The CEO of PDVSA in Bolivia, Darío Merchán, said the construction and assembly of the Planta Termoeléctrica del Sur, in Tarija, entered its final phase and its launch is forecasted for June… Termoeléctrica del Sur is a project of the joint venture Empresa Nacional de Electricidad Andina and required a $122 million investment, financed by the Bolivian Central Bank (BCB). …160 megawatts…inauguration in a matter of weeks…Energy consumption in the country is rising to 1,200 megawatts and supply is 1,400 megawatts, leaving a 200 MW reserve. Merchán emphasized that the Termoeléctrica del Sur will bring Bolivia closer to its goal of exporting electricity in the medium term.

Now all they need is a power line to the llanos, and Venezuela will be ready for El Niño.

Infrastructure notes: Bolivia soars, Venezuela, well, hmm

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 11.08.43 AMThanks to a series of tweets last night by Omar I learned that La Paz, Bolivia has opened the world’s longest teleferico, part of a new 10-km, three-line system of “metrocables” to connect the higher parts of the city with the lower. La Paz joins Medellín, Rio de Janeiro and Caracas in using metrocables to connect the hills, which in all four cities are poorer areas, with the job-rich center. Urban thinkers love metrocables*. They are like helicopters for poor people, leaping the staircases, highways and gang wars that once cut hill-dwellers off from the crystal palaces of downtown. They’re fun to ride and are relatively cheap, compared to subways or helicopters.

Did I say relatively cheap? Yes, that’s one of the selling points. The urban part of Medellín’s system cost something like $71 million for 4.7 km. (The documents on this are eluding me after hours of searching Colombian government web sites, which is a bit suspicious, but this online rant has the highest numbers I’ve seen, so let’s go with it.) That’s $15,106 per meter. According to these technical specifications, La Paz is building its 10,377-meter system for $235 million, or $22,615 per meter. Caracas built its 1.8-km San Agustín system for $257 million, or $142,777 per meter. That was 55 times more than the 10 billion old bolivars ($4.6 million) originally planned. The Caracas system overruns were in part because of gold-plating — check out the oversized, marble-floored stations — and quite likely in part because of corruption, though no, I don’t have the goods on that. Congratulations Country X.

That’s not to say that Venezuela can’t do anything fast and cheap. When I was there in December, I was surprised to see the national government building a new bridge over the Güaire river to connect the congested La Mercedes neighborhood with the freeway on the other side of the river. It was a very odd project, as the bridge was being built with minimal foundations at each end and was just a series of cheap trusses with a bit of asphalt on top — military campaign bridges pressed into service for heavy urban use. The turning radiuses to get on the bridge seemed horribly tight and it all looked like a recipe for yet more congestion in Las Mercedes, but who am I to complain — Caracas certainly needs more connectivity.

Well, turns out that my concerns about congestion and turning radii were off base. The bridge opened in early December. Yesterday, this happened. So it goes.

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Bolivia: Journalist lit on fire after reporting on fuel smuggling


Bolivian journalist Fernando Vidal set alight on air

A Bolivian radio journalist has been attacked while he was conducting a radio show in the southern city of Yacuiba.

Staff at Radio Popular said four masked men broke into the studio, poured petrol over presenter Fernando Vidal and set him alight.

Mr Vidal, 78, and another staff member are being treated for burns.

Relatives said Mr Vidal had been reporting on smuggling in the border area when the attack happened.

Via @viaSimonRomero

Chile copper reserves exposed to Bolivian marauders as land mines removed

Here’s a big issue for you copper investors out there: Chile, the single biggest copper-producing country, is backing down from its vigilant protection of this vital industrial metal by getting rid of the 181,814 land mines it placed on the country’s borders in the 1970s.

No, seriously — 181,814 land mines. Today, Chile’s defense minister was out declaring some mine fields “cleared” in the Antofagasta Region, near the town of Ollagüe. Roughly here.

So far, 50,000 have been destroyed. That would mean there are still more than 131,000 land mines in this country. Good thing, too, cause otherwise who knows what would happen to all that copper.

Bolivia: More energy nationalization

I’m back from the beach; all I know is what I read in the paper. Evo Morales says Bolivia will take over TDE, the biggest grid company in Bolivia. Let the pros at Reuters tell the story:

LA PAZ, May 1 (Reuters) – Bolivia is nationalizing the local unit of Spain’s Red Electrica, President Evo Morales said on Tuesday … a power transmission company that administers 1,900 kilometers of power lines in Bolivia … Morales said the expropriation of Cochabamba-based TDE stems from the company’s lack of investment in Bolivia, an accusation similar to the argument used by Argentina to justify its takeover of YPF…

Oddly, that’s about all it says in the Reuters story. No mention of grid reliability in Bolivia compared to other nearby countries, nor whether this presages a wider takeover of the electricity industry, including generation or household service. I’m glad the Maypole’s already bedizened, ’cause it’s time for me to take me a read of this here 47 MB Electricity Annual. Later!

Also, as he often does, Otto beat me to this and has worthwhile words of geopolitical wisdom on the topic.