PCNI II: Cargo Ships In Puerto Cabello Drop Dramatically

February 19, 2016


When I initiated the Puero Cabello Non-Baltic Index (PCNI) on Jan. 28th. my intention was to contribute some sanity to the claim that no ships were arriving to La Guaira by noting that Puerto Cabello was running about as usual with about 15 cargo ships or more in port on any given day (I only count cargo ships docked i the port, not tankers or others). At the same time, given that I was concerned about the possibility that in the near future imports could go down enough to be a concern, it was a way of monitoring how things were.

Unfortunately, only days after my first post, there was significant drop in cargo ships arriving in Puerto Cabello and even a couple of days of practically no ships in port as you can see in the graph above. From levels of 15 cargo ships in port, we are no running around 4 to 5 a day, a significant drop from the customary 15.

Given that I had no history, you may wonder if my series may simply be a seasonal effect, however, one of the readers of the blog sent me the series that he had from the first semester of last year and I can tell you that the average was above the level I started with and there were certainly no days as low as those that have been seen in the last two weeks.

This is a dramatic change and I would like to be optimistic in that there seems to be a pick up recently, but I have to wait for the data. In the meantime, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if the port was running above 15 ships per day last year on average and there was scarcity, things are indeed going to get worse soon in Venezuela…

(Just to make sure the methodology is clear: I go in http://www.marinetraffic.com once a day, the number of cargo ships docked in port may vary during the day by one or two, but have never seen it it change more than two and only once. I don’t know what the cargo ships are carrying)


35 Responses to “PCNI II: Cargo Ships In Puerto Cabello Drop Dramatically”

  1. Blackburn Says:

    Hi Miguel!
    Some more info – in case you’ve not seen it – about reduced activity at Puerto Capello in the Feb 23. notes at venezuelandailybrief.blogspot.com

  2. Charlie Says:

    Canned tuna has been scarce for a while, and when you find it, you pay an arm and a leg. The latest price for the 140 gram can is BsF. 1900 — same size, similar quality at one supermarket chain in the US costs 65-99 cents, depending on the brand (see below)… that’s 2-3 times more expensive in Venezuela … at the black market rate.

    Hannaford SUPERMARKET
    5 Oz. Starkist Chunk Light Tuna In Oil 65¢ [on sale]
    5 Oz. My Essentials Chunk Light Tuna 85¢
    5 Oz. Chicken Of The Sea Chunk Light Tuna In Water 98¢
    5 Oz. Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna In Water or Oil 99¢

    • IslandCanuck Says:

      I’ve come across a number of products for sale at Sigo or Rattan here in Margarita that have no relation to prices in the USA. One product was Equal sweetener which was 4x more expensive at the BM rate than the price on Amazon.

      I suspect that what’s happening is that they are using in-house middlemen in the US to buy products & then ship them to Venezuela but billed at prices based on multiples of the BM rate rather than the SIMADI rate so that they won’t run into problems with SUNDE or SENIAT.

      Really, if I was running the company that’s exactly what I would do. The restrictions on retail sellers are so onerous that you have to do something to get around the rules.

    • Lee Kuan Yew Says:

      And then how on God’s Green Earth do people even survive? On “minimum salaries”? (Not talking about the 7 Million or so ENCHUFADOS)

      We know they don’t pay Rent, Gas, Electricity, School, transportation, or clothing or Insurance and health care (all supposedly free). Guess they don’t pay for cell phones or cable tv either.

      Still, how can they buy half a chicken and a refresco? Or even some pasta?

      Talking about tuna, I suspect something Fishy, very, very fishy. Everywhere. At every level. In every town, barrio or caserio.

      Or else you do the math for me.

    • M Rubio Says:

      Interesting that you mentioned canned tuna.

      Two days ago I bought 2 boxes of canned tuna, all the guy had of Eveba (one of the higher quality brands) and paid about 800 bs per can of 170 grams. He showed me a photo on his phone just sent to him by a buddy who received Eveba, 140 grams, marked with a “precio justo” of 2880 bs.

      I think I’ll just hoard what I’ve got. Haven’t had tuna in months.

  3. Mick Says:

    Just curious. How much was the supplemented gas in 1989?

    • moctavio Says:

      Gasoline was increased 100% by Carlos Andres Perez to Bs. 0.00275 at today’s Bolívar. This caused the “Caracazo”.

      Caldera slowly brought it to Bs. 0.097 where it stood until last week.

  4. Lee Kuan Yew Says:

    Guess “El Pueblo” will have to revert to the old-fashioned way of doing things: You plant plants, you grow corn, you fish fish, you herd cattle, you trade, sell and buy, and thus feed your family. Instead of waiting for “El Gobielno” to sell oil, and give you Freebies. Or some “Enchufe”.

    Not saying everyone is like that, but way too many.

    • m_astera Says:

      Agreed, but a fewf things are missing to make this happen on the agricultural side; seeds and fertilizers to start with.

      Chicken feed has been chronically short for years.

    • moctavio Says:

      He is clown, used to say inflation was going down. I think he even made a bet with Quico about it. He gets paid, he writes, but he has never understood corruption and how the economy works.

  5. Dean A Nash Says:

    If all of these reports are accurate – and I don’t doubt them – then the end is FINALLY in sight. But I predict that it’s going to be a very ugly end, lots of blood and gore, making the ’89 Caracazo look like a walk in the park.

    When it comes to food and water, it’s life and death.

  6. M Rubio Says:

    The stories from vendors arriving at my bodega are all the same…..really tough to find product, and when you do, the prices are increasing almost daily. 2 liter soft drinks which I was selling for 300 bs around Christmas are now at 600 bs…..and there are none in the chinese markets, zero. I know because I was there yesterday. That guy usually buys 1500 cajas at a time but the suppliers can’t hit those kinds of numbers so they haul a few hundred cajas and sell them to the bodegas.

    I haven’t seen chupi-chupi, the favorite of the local kids, since before Christmas. I finally called the guy that usually supplies me and he said there’s no sugar to make them.

    I was lucky enough to buy a good supply of canned sardines, en aceite, back in late January but they’re most exhausted now. Not much to eat here.

  7. Mick Says:

    To compare apples to apples, roughly what was the ratio of the cost of a liter of gasoline to one of your arepas back in 1989?

  8. Dr. Faustus Says:

    Perhaps one of the most important news stories concerning Venezuela and its economy over the past 2 years. The Chinese said, …no.


    Where does it go from here? How will they pay for future food shipments? No credit, just cash on the barrel. Puerto Cabello food/cargo shipments will drop even further.

  9. It is anyway a difficult task, to capture the trend which correlates scarcity in the house/markets shelves with vessels traffic at bay and docked in Venezuelan ports, -country wich imports 64% of the arepa- you have to deal with spuriousness and blind correlations, at the end if you find correlations which do not mean causality -which it is what you are looking for- even though causalities, in general, do correlate, correlations do not mean causality, old rule. At the end you exercise could end as a fishing expedition, you went for tuna but you get sardines. I hope you get what you are looking for.

    • m_astera Says:

      Not much food is arriving via airplane.

      • moctavio Says:

        Si la mayor oarte de la comida llega por Pto. Cabello y el numero de barcos que llega es el 25% de lo que llegaba el año padado, creo la correlacion es importante y bastante clara, no veo por donde podria no estar correlacionado.

  10. Dave Barnes Says:

    “no tickee, no laundry” as we used to say in ‘Murica (before the PC police wouldn’t let us)

  11. Roger Says:

    I find where these ships are sailing from and their class most interesting. Also, I don’t think that information is all from AIS but also
    from carriers that supply that information to the data base. Remember each trip is insured, manifested and all that. In many cases I doubt they are offloading the whole boat. As in the past, many of the containers are privately owned and thus not part of the public regulated food programs. I find the boats from Colombia and Panama interesting as they seem to be packet ships that drop stuff off Cash up Front. I bet the Colombian ones are caring the same Harina Pan we eat for 2.99USD at Kroger Markets and at this point even if a shipload of Iowa corn came in, they would be hard put to process it? Has anyone upgraded on this site and more important know the shipping business? I for one would be willing to kick in to pay for it. But, for the AN, this must be a top priority, for if the food runs out, all hell will break loose and they better have a plan. In the tropics of Venezuela, food and water are the only things one needs.
    To have cairne (grass hut), a small hato (herd) or even a finca (piece of land) and just enough cloth to cover ones bits was middle class. In the days of the Liberator, they went off and fought the Spanish with long sharpened sticks and bareback with with horsehair halters. Today, what is the trigger? Food? For sure but, what if all the cell service crashes or the subway in Caracas stops or who knows what?

  12. Kim Says:

    Here is my thought in cargo. When Venezuela having problem on goods or sample and no money is collect. Soon there will no cargo port because there is no money to pay to the suppliers. So, soon therefore no cargo ships at all. Your president is destroying the economy and the human race who live there. You must throw or resignation your president before he paralyzed the whole country. Your president is like the Communism or dictatorship.

  13. Caracas Canadian Says:

    Just checked….Luminous Ace which was in Pto Cab today is also a car carrier and tomorrow or Sunday the Falstaff from the Swedish company Wllenius Wilhelsen will also be in Pto Cab and it is also a car carrier…..need lots more Cherys to keep the military happy.

  14. Stefan Says:

    Dear Miguel, please take into account that the AIS receiver of Puerto Cabello is currently offline. Therefore the vessels within the port are currently located by a VHF receiver station which is located in Curaçao (AIS receiver of Mermaid boat trips). During most of the day, the port is outside of the receiver range and the number of ships within the port appear too low. The most reliable VHF reception is around 0:00h UTC (after sunset in Venezuela). At this time, most ships appear on the map.

  15. Dr. Faustus Says:

    Jaw-dropping stuff. The last time the world saw a government-induced famine on this scale was Mao’s China during the late 50’s. Shall we call this Hugo’s Great Leap Forward?

  16. Bill Says:

    Miguel. Bless your Gizzard. I was just telling my wife I was going to email you and ask about this. We have several family and friends there, that are talking about very serious shortages. What can be found is WAY above what they can afford. I have a Brit friend that just got back from the Maracaibo area and said there was nothing he could find to eat and had to rely on canned and preserved stock he had stashed in his apartment.
    My wife and I usually head down around the first of April as I work for PDVSA. We usually ship as much as a ton of food before we leave but my friend says they are confiscating that at the docks now. By the way PDVSA hasn’t paid me in 18 months.

    • Will Hann Says:

      I lived/worked in Caracas and must say; If PDVSA hasn’t paid you in 18 months, going down there in April seems to be an extremely ______ move. By the way, its about to get much worse in Ven.

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