Venezuelan future without BOPEC

The problem increases for Venezuela with the possibility of losing the BOPEC terminal that ships to Asia

Venezuelan future without BOPEC

Venezuela is the country with the largest reserves of oil on the planet and has always been its salvation and its condemnation. In the 70's, the country lived from the oil bonanza tied to the prices of the crude oil that as soon as they collapsed Venezuela also did.

The famous "black gold" became the country's main economic activity by constituting 13% of GDP for the year 2013. In this period, under the Government of Hugo Chavez, the barrel went from 10 dollars to surpass the barrier of 100 dollars.

The luck lasted for a short period of time for Venezuela, so today we talk about the fall of the oil industry. A country that used to export about 2 million of barrels a day to the United States and now only exports 700,000. Most of the business is in the hands of the state Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and its associations with transnational corporations. PDVSA is already in the look because of the corruption scandals. In December 2017, the Public Prosecutor's office sent to the prison, for crimes ranging from counterfeit production figures to embezzlement and attack on the sovereignty of the country, 67 managers of PDVSA.

The list of consequences is long enough to understand that Venezuela was and is dependent on oil.

During Nicolás Maduro's government, oil prices remain in decline and Venezuela is in worst economic, social and humanitarian crises ever seen in the country. Sanctions from the United States, lack of gasoline from the main cities of the country to the most remote areas, smuggled by sea and land and a myriad of oil-related situations.

Now PDVSA is at risk of losing the Bonaire Petroleum Corp Terminal (BOPEC) with a storage capacity of 10 million of barrels and deep-sea docks that can load large vessels on the island of Bonaire, belonging to the Government of the Netherlands. The terminal is a key part of PDVSA's logistics in the Caribbean and its possible closure could damage shipments to customers in Asia.
Why does this suddenly seem to happen? The BOPEC terminal is in a national Maritime Park reserve, so environmental regulation prohibits any type of spillage of products in soil and water. Since the 2010, Bonaire is a municipality of the Dutch government, which granted 10 years for the adequacy of the terminal facilities to the Dutch regulations and the API regulations with completion in 2020.

During the period 2010-2015, PDVSA-BOPEC did not execute any action for the adequacy of the terminal as required by the environmental and maritime regulations and licenses. PDVSA, which provides most of Venezuela's export revenues, has been struggling this year to retain contracts for storage tanks and docks in the Caribbean due to delays in payments and disagreements with US firms Buckeye Partners and NuStar Energy, which operate terminals in the Bahamas and San Eustache.

"We have given them an ultimatum to come up with a solid plan to ensure safer and safer operations" before 5 January, said Danielle Rebel, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment in the Netherlands.

BOPEC has a delay in the items needed to meet international standards, she said. "if you fail to comply with the plan requested by Bonaire's environmental and Transportation Inspection (ILT), you must begin emptying the terminal in early February," and commented that they could suspend their operations. Likewise, she added that its operation license could finally be withdrawn.

The current situation of operational capacity of the terminal is critical and the volume of storage has decreased by 66% and with a tendency to reduce an additional 7%. This is consequence of the deterioration of the tanks and the bad conditions of the fund, due to delays in the maintenances programmed and inadequate maintenance practices. If this is the case of one of PDVSA's proprietary terminals, what will be happening in the rest? What are the rescue plans in which PDVSA works sunk into corruption? Losing a terminal like the BOPEC at a crucial time for Venezuela is to sentence the economy, even more, to the lost.

Latin American Post | Diana Carolina

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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