PCNI: Things Looking Up, More Ships Coming In

March 9, 2016


Well, for a change, some good news for the Puerto Cabello Non-Baltic Index (PCNI). The number of cargo ships in the Puerto Cabello port has been increasing, slowly, but surely, as the levels of two to four ships a day have changed and as you can see above, we have seen some days of ten ships and oscillations between six and ten ships per day.

This is clearly a significant improvement over the previous month, but the number of cargo ships is is running about 50-60% of the number last year, but there has been a significant improvement so far.

My data taking has also improved. I used to record once a day, but as the number of ships dwindled, I became so interested in the topic (and concerned!) that I now go check it many times a day. The number of ships is the maximum number recorded every single day. The number was also checked with the incoming and outgoing ships in the same website marinetraffic.com to make sure the error, if any, was small.

I certainly hope the improvement continues…

28 Responses to “PCNI: Things Looking Up, More Ships Coming In”

  1. m_astera Says:

    In retrospect, in my life, I have always gotten either what I deserved, or I have gotten a lesson if I was wise enough to learn it.

  2. moctavio Says:

    It’s a geeky joke, the Baltic Index or the Dry Baltic Index is an index issued by the London Exchange on the cost of shipping goods by ship…

  3. The Shadow Says:


    Excuse my ignorance. Why do you call it “Non-Baltic” index?

  4. Ira Says:

    This is OT, but I’m curious:

    You (Miguel) often report on how the Chavistas stock the shelves/discount the higher end items in anticipation of the holidays and elections.

    Did anything noticeable or newsworthy happen this year, especially considering the Dec. 6 election’s proximity to the holidays? Or are things so bad that they couldn’t afford to pull this trick off for even a few weeks?

  5. moctavio Says:

    It’s a sterile discussion if you bring up 2014, at the time there were plenty of ships in Puerto Cabello and oil income topped 60 billion a year. Today, oil income is 20 billion, oil is at $34. I had never seen people skip meals near me in my lifetime, I saw that this year for the first time, when the impact of almost no ships had not even been felt. Given how little Venezuela produces, US$ 20 billion, assume 30% is smuggled to Colombia and you have US$ 12 billion for 30 million people in imports. That is $400 maximum a year per inhabitant. Not pretty, not Haiti, but not pretty.

    • The oil industry (PDVSA and jvs) uses some of that incoming cash. I noticed they aren’t cutting back on active rigs, and those consume $$. You must also account for bond payments, the cut Venezuela sends to the boss in Havana, and the amount that’s still being stolen.

      However, I expect oil price to be close to $65-70 by year end (simply because production is dropping and the activity isn’t enough to reverse the ongoing decline).

      • Ira Says:

        But how is production going to be dropping, with Iran just now coming online? Not to mention that the most recent and most accurate estimates put solid profitability on substantial U.S. fracking at around $45?

        But hey, I don’t believe in the tooth fairy either, and don’t think prices will stay this low, based on any of a number of conspiracy theories. However, I really think that the only thing that’s going to drastically increase prices is a war/disaster/coup somewhere that interrupts supply. Or a miraculous global economic boom.

        And which do you think is more likely?

        • moctavio Says:

          Production is dropping because too many fields are not profitable. Last year LA lost 550,000 barrels a day of production, at these levels there will be the same amount lost in 2016. China may be growing slow, but there are more cars, same in India, demand is growing, US production is also dropping because of oil prices. Remember the imbalance is 3-4% of the market. Do you think it justifies a 70% drop?

          • Ira Says:

            $35 (okay, $45) is the new $100.

            Yes, fields are LESS profitable at $45 than $100 (duh), but it’s not the point. They’re still profitable.

            VCRs and DVD/BluRay players went from hundreds of dollars…to tens of dollars (literally). Because the technology and means to produce them increased a hundred-fold. Everyone got into the action.

            This is the new reality with oil, especially since the world has shed this nutty notion that’s it’s a finite resource.

            U.S. and Canadian fracking has changed the game.

            • moctavio Says:

              No, many are not, that is why latin america lost 559,000 barrels in production last year and the us 200,000 barrels in the last three months, if you losing money you close the operation and ypu invest less. Fracking requires continuos investment as field decay very fast and you have to drill new ones. The number of new rigs drilling is at a very low point, that means fewer barrels. A typical fracking field goes down 50% in a year. Heavy oil from Venezuela has to be mixed with light oil, the break even is much higher than regular oil, also not profitable and there are no excess profits to reinvest. Colombia is losing prduction, so is Mexico…Brasil is scaleing down dramatically its investment. But 20 mm new cars show up in the roads of China every year.

  6. I guess it all depends on how much is unloaded from each vessel. Venezuela has 30 million inhabitants. Given the lack of national production, it must take at least four dozen vessels to plug in the gap.

    Question: is there truck traffic between Colombia via Machiques-Colon towards Maracaibo and the bridge? That used to be full of trucks bringing food from Colombia.

  7. Lee Kuan Yew Says:

    Food is not the main problem. Some people might be going hungry, which is terrible, children going hungry to bed, but it’s not up to the African starvation levels. And most people do not go hungry in Vzla. They just lack this and that item, and have to endure the colas.

    I’d say 2 problems are much more dire: Insecurity, cuz you can get killed any day for nothing (27000 murders last year, world record), and, above all lack of medicines and faltering medical equipment.

    They are already calling it “a silent Genocide”, with Hundreds of people Dying every day:


    Tragically, these ships don’t carry medicines or medical equipment.

    • moctavio Says:

      Food is already a problem, so are medicines. 7-8 ships a day is half of what was arriving last year. Pto Cabello is mostly food. So, half of everything, f you dont think that is a problem, you havent been to Caracas recently. Medicines is also a problem, most raw materials arrive by plane.

      • Lee Kuan Yew Says:

        I did not write that food is not a problem. I suggest you get new reading glasses.

        • moctavio Says:

          “but it’s not up to the African starvation levels” that is wrong, as simple as that, it is getting to those levels my friend. People ARE going hungry.

          • Lee Kuan Yew Says:

            I disagree. African starvation levels, or even Asian starvation levels in certain countries (Bangladesh, etc) are Waaayyyyyyyyyyy worse. You’re talking millions of children in skeletal conditions, often wandering in the desert.

          • Lee Kuan Yew Says:

            Yes, some people are going hungry, but it’s not THAT bad.

            Actually, Venezuela is not even in the top 50, in the hunger index. (GHI – updated once per year)


            I rest my case.

            • moctavio Says:

              When was that done? Obviosuly I worry about what may happen, I assure you if less than 5 ships come in daily we will quickly rise to the top.

              I rest MY case.

            • Lee Kuan Yew Says:

              Look, I’m not saying it’s not bad, of course it is. All I’ve said is there are 2 worse problems in Vzla than food (crime and health care); and that Vzla is still not nearly as bad as many countries in Africa and Asia. Not even close! Even Guatemala is probably worse today, according to the 2014 study. In Haiti they literally eat Dirt to survive, do we see that in Vzla?

              Case closed.

            • Alexis Says:

              Congratulations, you have found people who are even worse, Venezuela isn’t at the bottom of the list!

              I know people in Venezuela who eat once a day. And their diet doesn’t include any fruit, vegetable or proteins (animal or vegetal). A large part of the new generation will have stunted growth and intellectual deficits.

              This is MUCH worse than the insecurity problem.

    • Diolcletian Says:

      Look, countries like Bangladesh or Ethiopia don’t just have famines becuase of some innate characteristic. Bangladesh, for example, is one of the most fertile countries in the world. They had massive famine due to political reasons (a bloody war of independence in one; incompetent government and a civil war in the other). Liberia? Sierra Leone? All man-made. And don’t even get me started about North Korea.

      The point is that a modern, urban economy is in great risk of starvation. No national production, reliance on one export with unfavorable terms of trade, high debt…not a pretty picture.

      What MO is doing is very important. And the lack of food is a very serious problem.

  8. TV Says:

    Unfortunately the improvement seems to be just a reflection of the change in methodology. If not, great, but it’s just prolonging the inevitable, making it worse. Venezuela is in a state of general disaster as it is, and it will get worse before it gets better. The longer the muddling along goes, the harder it will get to clim out of the pit.
    Becoming a failed state is not out of the question at this point. 😦

    • moctavio Says:

      There may be a little bit of that, but there is a real improvement, there were days when I was monitoring continously and no more than two ships would be in port for example.

  9. Ira Says:


    Let’s see if the colas are reduced, or if people can fnd the medicines they need.

    Unless you, or anyone, can quantify what’s actually being brought in…let alone making it to the people…you’re just counting ducks in the water.

    Some ducks you can eat, but most just shit on your patio.

    • Bill Says:

      Dear Ira,
      I live far away from this turmoil. But have lots of family and friends living in this mierda de patos. This count of ships is very important as others interested in the supply to our family and friends. I for one am deeply indebted to Miguel for his diligence in tracking this information and that of the level of water in reservoirs. We that live on the outskirts of this turmoil and yet have family and friends to support there praise Miguel for his information. Please praise him for his information and let him inform us as best as he can.

    • moctavio Says:

      Ira: Of course there will be lines, last year there were 15 ships in port most days and there were lines, so it is quite obvious that there will still be lines. What I worry about is simply that there is no food, no ships, no food, as simple as that. Scary possibility, no?

      I also worry about the electric problem.

      • Dean A Nash Says:

        Of course, if we don’t know what is on those ships…governments are notoriously inefficient in managing anything, much less a market. For all we know, those could be ships full of toothpaste. Just saying…

        I don’t believe that Ira’s comment was an attack on Miguel’s work as much as it was a warning, the same as this comment is meant to be.

        Miguel, your work is truly priceless. THANK YOU.

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