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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

VenEconomy: The Footprints Being Left by the Disaster

From the Editors of VenEconomy

The calamitous state into which Petróleos de Venezuela has been plunged over the past 13 years has left its mark, to whit the ecological disaster in the north of Monagas state following the spill of some 60,000 barrels of oil (one million liters).

The accident occurred on February 4 after an oil pipeline burst at the Jusepín Complex, where oil from El Furrial Oil Field is processed and stored.

According to reports, there were a number of additional factors that contributed to turning the oil spill into an ecological disaster, among them: 1) the instant cut-off valves, which would have stopped the flow of oil coming from El Furrial, failed to work; 2) periodic checks on and maintenance of the pipes were not carried out; 3) the response to the emergency was late in coming (it apparently took management some 21 hours to react); and 4), according to reports, a large number of the workforce and management staff had been taken to Caracas to take part in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the failed coup d’état of February 4, 1992.

Unfortunately, the damage has been done and the terrible consequences are already being felt by local inhabitants and the environment.

To start off with, the spill has polluted the GuarapicheRiver, from which much of the potable water used by the people in Maturìn, the state capital, comes.

Worse still, the spill is spreading, killing all river life in its path. Unofficial reports indicate that the crude has already reached the San Juan River and Caripito and that it will reach the Gulf of Paria in 24 hours, and from there it will flow into the Atlantic.

The immediate cause of this spill may well have been a crack in a pipe, but the true causes are negligence and the lack of maintenance and an effective emergency plan.

Sadly, this “accident” is the inevitable consequence of the deprofessionalization of PDVSA and of a top management that is more concerned with satisfying Chávez’s every whim than making sure that the industry’s real needs are met.

VenEconomy has been a leading provider of consultancy on financial, political and economic data in Venezuela since 1982.

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