The Lake Maracaibo oil spill is sixteen times denser than the one in the Gulf of Mexico

July 1, 2010

Orders of magnitude continue to get this Government into trouble. I could not believe it when I heard Minister of Energy and Oil Rafael Ramirez say today that the oil spill in Lake Maracaibo is far from the environmental disaster of the one caused by BP in the Gulf of Mexico. I could not find the link, so I went into Bloomberg and copied it, just  so you make sure I am not BSing you:

So, Ramirez says that the 8,000 barrels being leaked or spilled are not a disaster like the Gulf and , as usual, they are the fault of the private oil companies that came before his time. Something the Prosecutor fully agrees with. Amazing!

Go figure!

But let’s put this into perspective. The US Government estimates that from 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil are spilling from the Macondo well disaster into the Gulf of Mexico which looks like this in Google Earth:

but on the same scale, Lake Maracaibo looks like this:

Now, spilling 8,000 barrels a day of oil into the bottom picture of Lake Maracaibo would seem to be as much of a disaster as spilling 60,000 barrels a day into the top picture, no?

In fact, according to Wikianswers, the Gulf of Mexico has an area of 615,000 square miles, so that in the worst case scenario the BP spill corresponds to 0.097 barrels spilled per square mile every single day.

In contrast, Lake Maracaibo, according to the same Wikianswers is 5,130 square miles in size, which corresponds to the spill that ramirez thins is irrelevant to 1.56 barrels of oil per square mile being dumped, spilled or leaked per day. Even worse, Lake Maracaibo is an enclosure, while the Gulf is open to the seas, which should dilute the effects of the spill.

Thus, the statement about this spill not being a disaster is another irresponsible statement by Ramirez, who has oil spills, rotten food and suitcases bounce off his cynical and Teflonic face almost daily.

But orders of magnitude don’t lie, per unit of area, the spill into Lake Maracaibo is 16 (sixteen times) denser than the one in the Gulf of Mexico.

But hey, maybe they can take advantage of it and dump some rotten food into Lake Maracaibo and mix it with the oil. Who would notice?

Or who would report anyway?

18 Responses to “The Lake Maracaibo oil spill is sixteen times denser than the one in the Gulf of Mexico”

  1. tannin Says:

    The sad ascpect of the two oil spills, in the gulf of Mexico and in Lake Maracaibo is that the U.S. govt has proved to be as inept and untruthful as Venezuelas.
    My current rant, and it is a deviation from the discussion, is about what this says about the actual ability to function of the U.S. govt; sadly, i’d suggest we must take the same lessons that we take from Maracaibo re the Venezuelan govt.
    Obama, whom i would have voted for had i been American, is saying things almost as bizarre ( and i’m being generous using that word ) as Chavez.
    Eg; early on in the spill, Obama said, on TV, when asked how much oil the well was gushing, ” it doesn’t matter how much oil is coming out, it’s got to be stopped ” ( words to that effect ).
    That tells me that he knew that the 1000 or 5000 barrel a day figure, whichever was current at the time, was a bald faced lie, and dodged the question by saying a truly stupid thing ‘ it doesn’t matter how much oil is coming out “.
    Of course it matters; the urgency demanded by a 100,000 barrel a day gusher into the gulf, and that is what i thing it was, is radically different for that required for a 1000 barrel or 5000 barrel a day ‘leak’.
    Having watched the U.S., its various security agencies having loads of information on the 911 terrorists, not communicating to each other, the terrible results of the deadly flood in New Orleans made vastly worse by a nonfunctioning U.S govt, and now the same thing for the gulf spill; i’m worried.
    btw, many nations in the world, the Dutch for one, offered the U.S. help with the ‘spill’ within the first few days, and many nations, including the Dutch, have much more advanced technology than the U.S. to handle oil spills; all these offers of help were turned down by the U.S. govt !!

    Just a frustrated rant; forgive me everyone.

  2. loroferoz Says:

    “Given his intellectual capacity, there is no telling.”

    Do not underestimate Ramirez.

    He probably works under a very peculiar set of incentives, for peculiar objectives and with a peculiar set of beliefs, in a challenging work environment that calls for careful and creative framing of the signals he gives to his superiors and to the public.

    Translation from euphemism: He is a flaming bastard, an opportunist and a sociopath tasked (in the past and present) with very dirty work by another opportunistic bastard who is a pathological narcissist to boot, amassing riches beyond (our) reckoning and building his own little kingdom in the same breath and lying without blinking is just a small part of the things he does without blinking.

    He probably means both the pre-1976 oil companies and the oilfield service companies in the 2000s. It all depends on how dumb his intended audience is. if it’s dumb, the second. If it’s dumber, the first.

  3. Maria Says:

    Please read what a true expert has to say about this problem:

    “Oil spills in Lake Maracaibo and our civic indifference ”

  4. Gringo Says:

    loroferoz : It all depends on what Ramirez actually meant when he talked about “private oil companies.” Was he talking about “private oil companies” (IIRC, out of the lake by 1976) or “private oil service companies” (recently confiscated)? Given his intellectual capacity, there is no telling. Certainly PDVSA under Chavista control has been extremely remiss in maintenance.

  5. loroferoz Says:

    “PDVSA President Ramirez said the oil spills were” the result of lack of maintenance by private oil companies in the past.”

    It might well be the truth, too! In a normal country it would mean that they were to blame because they had been instructed and paid to do so by PDVSA and did not perform.

    Here in Chavezlandia and in Ramirez’s fief the service companies did probably stop giving service because they were not paid in years, or had to obey contradictory policies, or were not given instructions, or were expropriated or all of the above in rapid succession.

  6. Daveed Says:

    Kepler- sure. I have a couple more pictures of the same beach, if you want to drop me an email. Can you access my email address?

  7. Kepler Says:

    Daveed, can I snatch that pic? I will write basically the same stuff in German and send it to the Green party in Germany…they are definitely NOT supporters of Chávez.

  8. […] says its Lake Maracaibo oil leak is just 8 barrels a day. Or is it 8,000? Someone is mishearing something […]

  9. Daveed Says:

    I was just in Maracaibo. Check out the beach at the “Hotel del Lago”:

  10. Mick Says:

    The PDVSA also said they repair on average 117 leaks per week. Suddenly there is a noticeable amount of oil. Somehow 8 barrels a day sounds unrealistically low.

  11. Gringo Says:

    PDVSA President Ramirez said the oil spills were” the result of lack of maintenance by private oil companies in the past.”

    As oil was nationalized in 1976, this means that Ramirez assumes that there was no need for PDVSA to do maintenance for 34 years. This is at least consistent with PDVSA’s maintenance record since Thugo took control of PDVSA after the strike.

  12. sapitosetty Says:

    With respect, I think Bloomberg may have heard wrong. The pain of live TV coverage. PDVSA Web site quotes Ramirez saying that the leak is 8 barrels a day.

  13. Johndoe Says:

    Rafael Ramirez thinking:
    …. first response might be leading the blame to a great white shark that chewed away the pipe somewhere…. but as great whites are not common in this waters, lets blame “lemna”, but as lemna does not bite, lets say that the spills resulted from a bit of a “knob turning adjustments” in the usual pipe fixing … for god sake, fisherman will have free “betun” to polish their shoes… why people think negatively all the time?

  14. He dicho Says:

    Ramirez is right. They were “pirats”. But Pirats in the venezuelan modern meaning of the word, which is “people extremely unqualified for the job they are assigned to”

  15. Roberto N Says:

    No Chamo!

    They’re creating the New Socialist Orimulsion XXI

    Pirates! LOL.

    Los piratas son ellos, no joda!

    Somebody needs to start calling Ramirez “pata ‘e palo”.

  16. concerned Says:

    If PDVSA says it is 8,000 bpd, you could bet it is actually double or triple that amount. When was the last time, if ever, that the truth passed through Ramirez’s lips?

  17. Roy Says:

    The gall of those anti-revolutionary journalists, for actually reporting what Chavista officials say! If they didn’t report bad news, there wouldn’t be any!

  18. island canuck Says:


    They aren’t responsible ‘cuz pirates did it 🙂

    Venezuela’s PDVSA Blames “Pirates” for Spill

    CARACAS – State-owned oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, said “bands of pirates” were to blame for an oil spill that was detected at the end of May in northwestern Lake Maracaibo.

    …Ramirez added in a statement posted Wednesday on PDVSA’s Web site that the impact has been “moderate” and that the “situation is under control.”

    Crude clean-up brigades also have removed a large amount of “organic and inorganic waste (from the lake), such as plastic bottles, wood, pieces of mattresses, refrigerators and even vehicle parts” that were tossed in by area residents, and which “for the most part did not have traces of crude,” Ramirez said.

    (This report sounds like the empty field next door. LOL)

    Spills are common in the oil-rich, 13,280-sq.-kilometer (5,125-sq.-mile) lake, where more than 14,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled since the start of the 20th century.

    Raw sewage from lakeside communities, as well as other contaminants brought it from several tributaries, some of which originate in Colombia, also pollute Lake Maracaibo

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