Is Drought Really Causing The Problems With Guri Dam?

April 17, 2016

The title of this post may seem strange to some, when you look, for example, at the pictures in this Reuters report, it certainly seems like there is a drought in Guri, except that if the pictures were of the bottom of the now half -dry lake that forms the dam, it is obvious that it will look dead and drought-like in the pictures.

When I was in Caracas, someone told me that they had gone fishing in one of the tributaries of the river Caroni and the water level was quite high, something that was later confirmed by another friend who went fishing in the La Paragua river and saw the water level rise by a meter in a few days.

Despite this, the dam level keeps going down, so, what gives?

Both of my friends deduced from this, that the problem was not drought, but the managing of the Guri dam.

I stored this information in the back of my mind and did not look into this for  a couple of weeks, but all of a sudden, this blog post by Roger Andrews came out. While Andrews is not an expert in this particular field, he seems to be someone that likes charts and numbers and understanding problems. What Andrews showed, and I will come back to it, is that this has not been an anomalous year in terms of rainfall in Guri and that the problem with the water level was simply overuse of the dam to generate electricity.

It is useful before we discuss this, to show you an overall map of the area of Guri:


On the left, you can see the overall area in the Southeast of Venezuela down to Brazil and Guyana. In the blow up on the right, you can see the Caroni river and all its tributaries, which is the area that feeds the dam. What matters in the end, is what rainfall is doing there, not in Caracas or Maracaibo or even Ciudad Bolívar, far from the dam, bot in the basin of the Caroní river.

What Edwards did, was to look at the data in five rain stations in Bolivar and Amazonas and see if rain was particularly light in the last few years. Here I show two of them: Tumeremo, to the right of the dam, and Santa Elena to the South and which is in the Caroni basin:

PluviometriaAs you can see, rainfall in Tumeremo was in 2015 about the same as any other year and in the case of Santa Elena, rainfall levels were at 200 mm per month level, not exactly low given the long term record.

While I could not find a long term record for the Santa Elena Station, I did find the record for Kavanayen nearby:

KavaThis graph shows the maximum rainfall at the Kavanayen Station (black), the average (blue) and the lowest level (red) from 1969 to 1998 (Funny, there is no data after Chávez was elected)

As you can see 200 mm. is way above the lowest level ever measured.

Just to make sure, Edwards blew out the data and I will show what is seen for Santa Elena:


As you can see, last year was not too different than any of the past five years, when there was no “El Niño” to blame the supposed drought on.

At this point I wished I had current data for the stations with a long term record to compare. But then, a person I follow in Tweeter (@meteovenezuela) posted the following recent rainfall map:


This is a map of the Caroni river basin above Guri, showing the accumulated rain from March 15th. to April 13th at a number of stations. What is interesting is that we have two stations that we can compared to the long term record: Kavanyen and Uriman. At Kavanayen, the rainfall was 229.1 mm for this almost one month period. This number is way above the average rainfall for April 1st. from 1969 to 1998 in the graph above, which was of the order of 150 mm per month, and we are  talking about comparing to the average! Not to the lows…

We can do the same thing for the Uriman station, close to the dam as seen above above, where the rainfall was 151.7 mm in the same almost one month period.

Below is the long term record for this station:


I have placed a red dot on the curve with the data for this year, as you can see, it is right on the historical average, far from being an anomalously low value, as the presence of a severe drought would require.

Despite this, the Guri dam level continues to go down…

And to increase the mystery, I found this plot of the water volume in the Caroni river tweeted by @800GWHMWH:


Clearly, the volume of the river is at levels which are historically high, not low.

I am no expert, I just enjoy looking at data and graphs, I have looked for as much new data to complement Edwards’ and I must say, everything that I have found confirms what he concludes. I do hope one or many of the readers of this blog can help me in getting more information and data and debunking the Government’s claim that this El Niño-induced drought has been anomalously strong, because it certainly does not look like it.

In closing, I show a plot of the peak power demand in Venezuela in the last few years:


Clearly, despite the billions that were invested in order to increase power generation, we are now back to 2007 levels, indicating that something has been going downhill in the grid and I would bet, this has to do with the overuse of Guri, to compensate the decline of the whole network.


101 Responses to “Is Drought Really Causing The Problems With Guri Dam?”

  1. Ira Says:

    We all understand your (Miguel’s) methodology and conscience to chronicle and analyze hard data to present an argument/thesis.

    But was this really worth the effort in this case? Everyone knows, and has known, for a decade that the problem is with Guri, and corruption, and incompetence…and not rainfall.

    I mean, come on:

    Name one other country in South America experiencing power generation problems because of El Niño.

    • moctavio Says:

      then you did not get the point. One thing is for Guri to not working properly, another for it not to have water. The first is due to maintenance, the lack of water could be due to rain. The problem with power generation id mostly due to Chavizmo shelving plans for new power plants and corruption in what they built. thats why other countries have no problem.

      Most peopel think there is an unusual drought because parts of Venezuela have one.

      So, yes, it was worth my time.

      • Ira Says:

        We all knew it was never a rainfall problem.

        It hasn’t been a rainfall problem for the past five to God knows how many years. Yet Chavismo claims it’s rainfall.

        And the power problems only occurred under Chavismo.

        I don’t think you get what I’m saying, what I said:

        It’s all about the maintenance and deterioration of Guri, and other collapses in energy production. This is a given.

        It’s nothing surprising or new.

        • moctavio Says:

          Again, if you knew, then you were one of very few. There are two separate problems, one is power generation, the second one is that the water level is going down.

          Given that most of Venezuela is experiencing a very dry season, the fact that the water level was going down was accepted by almost all people as to come from the lack of rainfall, but it is not the same to rain in Caracas than in the Caroni basin.(Until I read the blog post, I accepted it, and knew nobody that thought otherwise).

          Now, I still want more data to prove it convincingly. I actually asked the Minister on Tweeter and he just told me to look up the data that shows it is lack of rainfall, that anyone with Internet can do it. Clearly it isn’t. But it is not as clear cut as you seem to think.

          • Mick Says:

            Maybe you should petition all the important opposition legislators with this info. They are probably just as unknowing as you were about the above average rainfall upriver.

            Seriously, how many people know what is really going on in other parts of the country. They all seem preoccupied with only their own back yards.

            • moctavio Says:

              Part of the reason for doing the post was to bring it up so that a metereologist that knows where to find more data picks it up and makes it public.

  2. Noel Says:

    Great investigative reporting and article. Facts are so inconvenient when they get in the way of political speech.

    The problem is that in the future, Vebezuela will need absolutely massive infrastructure investments to relaunch its economy, and this will be a chicken and egg dilemna.

  3. FrankPintor Says:

    So, to summarize, the lights are going to go out. Wow.

  4. bhood11bhood11 Says:

    Your report may be very revealing. I applaud your caution in requesting more data that may confirm, or reduce the significance of, Andrews’ conclusions. It seems that the situations of thermo generation and grid distribution is even worse than was already obvious. At one point, Nigeria had spent $10bn on electrical power without a single additional megawatt to show for it: perhaps Venezuela has been competing in the same pathetic league.

  5. Caracas Canadian Says:

    Another example of sheer chavista incompetence. I can surely believe that. I have been around ships for over 40 years. I have owned, operated and managed ships for well over 30 years.

    One lesson I learned early and have religiously followed is to have a clean hull underwater and to have clean propeller blades. Just making sure the propeller blades on a large ship are clean and properly polished can increase fuel efficiency by almost 10% (when crude was at $ 100 per barrel this was a saving of over $ 5,000 per day for the average ship in my company). Making sure the propeller is at the proper pitch with clean blades and no nicks/damage can increase fuel efficiency dramatically.

    From what I understand, cavitation of a turbine blade can cause server damage and result in pitting or other deterioration of the surface of the turbine blades. A ship’s propeller turns at 120-140 rpm, but the blade in a power turbine must be turning many hundreds of times faster per minute and the resulting power loss must be exponential.

    Proper planned maintenance program that was actually followed, as opposed to a chavista budget item that was there to be stolen.

  6. moses Says:

    FYI here is a link about one of the Francis Turbine overhaul done in 2009 by Andritz Hydro, check page 20 of the news report, these turbines turn at 125.5 RPM

  7. moses Says:

    There are some pretty good amateur meteorology Venezuelan pages, here is one of them:

  8. Salesman Says:

    Many here may remember when, a short time ago, PDVSA was internationally acknowledged as a premier national oil company. The national electrical companies were similarly professional. The daily maintenance, engineering and operations operated under modern management. Almost all of the engineers and support staff were local Venezuelan people and a robust university system supported the oil & industrial patch.

    I believe that the bones of this system still exist. There is grotesque layers of fat and the top level corruption is unaccountable. But the bones, the memory, of a professional organization remain.

    • Juan Largo Says:

      “Bones” is about right. A family member is just graduating with a petroengineering degree from Central University. The entire graduating class is only about 15. Looks like imports will be needed for the near future, and since Schlumberger just pulled out of most drilling operations for the lack of being paid, future exploration is also bogging down badly. Gonna take some time to recover but I believe it IS possible, just not by tomorrow.

  9. Please take a look at this video.

    • IslandCanuck Says:

      Holy sh.t!
      As Miguel demonstrates they are just putting on a show for the inevitable collapse.

    • Ira Says:

      Holy stupidity, Batman!!!

      That’s unbelievable!!!

      For those that haven’t done so, you gotta watch the whole thing.

  10. Dorian Says:

    I’m not a Venezuelan, just an interested observer from Europe, and as speaking as such, with respect to the dialogue between Ira and Moctavio and even the rest of you, I would like to point out a few things.

    I think you all are missing the point, even though you all are correct with your view points. Meaning that, this whole dam issue and El Nino thing is just a waste of time. Everybody knows that the real problem is that the Government is lying and that national resources, like dams, are being miss managed. However, the whole exercise of collecting data to establish a scientific/political/social position is pointless. Allow me to explain:

    – More or less you all agree the government is incompetent, but yet you all believe that the data collecting agencies are competent. That makes no sense. As you can see at many other places in the world, data collection agencies have been found out for lying, cheating and fabricating data. No matter what you collect in data, you first have to establish that the data you have collected is sound, and since the Venezuelan government is in such a poor and corrupt state, your data is also becomes highly suspicious. So this entire exercise in data collection and proving this or that, is absolutely futile. You have no solid basis to assume anything is right.

    – As you are all aware Venezuela is falling apart. Don’t you people think it would make more sense to start a dialogue on how to fix your political system than to discuss scientific matters? I mean, as per to my first point, you have bigger problems than a low water level in a dam that will lead to black outs. Truly, how can you sit around talking about rainfall data, when your entire country is about to fall into economic and social oblivion. The water level and hydro power problems will sort themselves out, once you have a healthy political system. Are you people seriously going to sit around and discuss water levels, when children are going to start starving to death? Get your priorities right!

    – One of the biggest problems I see in Venezuela is the mindset of many people who still believe that a socialist system can solve their problems. Socialism can only work if there is enough wealth to go round. Now I do understand that Venezuela is an oil exporting country, but does that really mean anything? Especially when oil prices are so depressed. It appears to me that a large, if not major, portion of the population is ignorant about not just the REAL economic situation but they are ignorant about the TRUE value of their national wealth. One of the reasons why Venezuela is doing so poorly is because the government has still such a huge support base within the country, especially among the poor. If you really want to help your country, don’t you think it is time to solve the real problem in Venezuela, and that is educate the poor? For all your analysis here about oil, dams, hydro electricity and so on, it will be all for nought, because the poor will only view you more educated people as self serving elitists, just as you view the government. Your real problem in Venezuela is that too many people are ignorant, and not about rainfall data or how dams are really being run, but about, understanding the true value, cost and expenses of a socialistic system. If you want Venezuela to be better, then start educating the voters better! What you are doing can be viewed as extremely self serving, and as I stated earlier pointless.

    I wish all Venezuelans well, but right now, you are all doing yourselves more harm than good. Get your priorities right, because every time I read this blog and the comments, you people are sounding more out of touch with reality and heartless, and sound more and more like the very government you criticize. And that is very sad to see.

    • Dr. Faustus Says:

      “If you want Venezuela to be better, then start educating the voters better!”

      Right. That’s a silly comment. And, by the way, that same thought is applicable to you Europeans and your governments. All of the readers/commentators to these blogs have a very good grasp as to how Chavista propaganda influences its voters. Ever hear of RCTV and Globovision (?), or Telesur (?), or who determines when a Cadena takes place (?), or what passes for normal government programming on a daily basis? No? Well perhaps you should be “educating” yourself and paying more attention to the content of these blogs.

      • Dorian Says:

        I am well aware how bad government services are, I live in Italy and things are very bad. But I stand by my point. The reason why you have such a poor country is because the bad and corrupt information is pushed out to the people. You really think that people in Venezuela are any more or less intelligent as Europeans? You really think people in Venezuela are any more or less corrupt as Europeans? You are stupid if you do. The problems you are having in Venezuela are the same problems in Italy, Greece and most other heavily socialistic countries in the world. That is, the people are fed corrupt information so they can be misled into bad decisions. They stand around and do what you are doing, Dr. Faustus, that is sprouting nonsensical blame on TV programs, that is so childish. You have a very poor country and it is not because of the television, it is because you have failed in your schools, you have failed in your teachers, you have failed in your universities. Why? Because like many if not most universities and schools around the world today they teach idiotic concepts like global warming, when it doesn’t exist. If you want a better society stop blaming the television programs, and start focusing on informing the People better, which sir, you do not. Dr. Faustus, you talk like an elitist, that’s why Venezuela is sick. If you really care about your country, start understanding what the people really need, and it isn’t better television. As for this blog, READ MY COMMENT EARLIER, this whole blog about oil, hydro etc, is all pointless. If your political system is corrupt and incompetent, why then can’t the scientists and engineers be too! Or are you elitists all so perfect, as I said earlier Dr. Faustus, you sound like the government. I can tell no difference between the talk here on this blog and the Chavistas!

        And for the record I am a physicist, and have been battling the same problems here in Italy. Too many elitists and not enough people who really care about the whole country and not just their own ego!

        • The REAL DEAL Says:

          Leave it to the “ITALIANS” to tell us how to do things. Thank you Dr.

        • SLuzardo Says:

          So if it is so easy to educate the voters and get the “true” words out why is Italy in such a mess, or Greece?? At least Italy has a free media to report and get the word out. VZLA does not…This report is useful and as u know they constantly discuss the political problems on this blog. The name calling and adjectives you launch into is really what is useless to readers…

    • moctavio Says:

      Dorian: I have been writing this blog for almost 14 years, every single issue has been discussed on how to solve Venezuela’s problems, if anyone wants to look it is there, but I really dont like repeating myself, so talking about how to fix things, been there done that, it is really quite obvious and the solutions are rather simple. But any such solutions go through undermining a Government that still has 30% popularity. If with this analysis I convince 2 people to leave Chavismo, I would consider it a victory.

      Data collection for rainfall is in part made by international networks, so it is not as bad as you may think. Fortunately, they are so incompetent that they left the old data on too.

      You are wrong if you think what is going on in Venezuela has anything to do with socialism. This is just a bunch of military officers who staged a coup and have been carrying out pure inefficient populism in order to get rich and keep control of the country. I have never believed Venezuela is a rich country, even with oil at $500 per barrel, in fact, I think that would be worse, given the title of my blog.

      Thanks for thinking my blog is pointless. I disagree. What can I say!

      • Dorian Says:


        I read your words, and I hear sincerity in them. So I will write sincerely to you, unlike my reply to Dr. Faustus, who only, if anything deserves pity. As you said you have been working away at this blog for 14 years, and has it really done any good? I have been battling away with my colleagues now for nearly 30 years, and it goes nowhere. There are blogs everywhere, like whatsupwiththat, notalotofpeopleknowthat, climatedepot, and so on, and have they achieved anything? NO! And why is that? It is because, the government knows that you can write and talk all you want and nothing will come of it. People today are thinking like it was some 200 years ago, when a cheeky Voltaire went about writing about the government in his time and it helped to cause a revolution, namely, the French Revolution. These are not those times. Take a good look around when you walk outside. When I do this in Italy, so many people still believe in the “old ways”. They know about the Internet, but don’t care about it. People in Italy are so backward, they don’t want to change, they don’t want to accept responsibility, the educators teach rubbish, the universities teach dogma. Every body is only interested in their own selfish needs. I bet it sounds a lot like Venezuela too. The poor are getting more poorer, and the middle class is disappearing, and the rich are only looking at taking more from the lower classes; that’s Italy I am writing about, even though it could sound like Venezuela, I bet. But in all this I see ONE REAL problem; people do not understand what is really happening, people are truly ignorant. And who’s fault is that? Yes you can blame the government, and in your case you say the Military. But who allows this to happen….The People! Because there is ALWAYS a large enough group of people that the government can use to “defend” and “help” and thus do their evil ways. Why is that? Because teachers, lecturers, professors, the entire education system is twisted towards lies; we can add in the media too, but it is the schools where it starts.

        So while during your 14 years you have been writing this blog, what has transpired in Venezuela? You really think you have contributed, if you have, then you have contributed towards its downfall. Why do I say that? Because while you were playing finger games on your keyboard to fill pages and pages of information that you thought was relevant for this blog, the country, that is YOUR beloved country went to hell! You really think you are doing good! SERIOUSLY! What happens when the children start dying from lack of food? You going to publish another meaningful blog on the needs of having clean water? While the bastards in government keep on doing their evil? Come on, seriously, Moctavio.

        FOURTEEN YEARS, and GOING ON FIFTEEN. How many decades have to past before you realize that what you are doing is pointless.

        Moctavio, with my hand on my heart, in God’s Good Grace, I swear I say this to you, I know you want to do good, and I know that you feel you are doing some good. But look at your results, I see only white collar elitists commenting here. The very people who have a vested interest NOT to change things. They can complain, but they are not suffering, not like the poor. So let me ask Moctavio:

        – When is the last time you have gone to poor people and asked them if they know of you and your work?
        – DO YOU SERIOUSLY think that your blog has changed someone’s mindset, or just supported those who agree with you already. I have yet come across anybody here in these comments who think that you have informed them in away that will change their way of thinking! To me, you are preaching to the converted. Big Deal! I.E. Pointless.

        Moctavio, you have a very sad country. As I do, here in Italy. But if you and I are going to change anything in our respective countries, it will not be done with a blog. The people we need to reach and educate, are not on the Internet.

        And do yourself a favour ignore people like Faustus, they live on an elitist level that no amount of time or reason will open their eyes, they are blind with hatred and prejudice. Focus on the people who are KEPT ignorant and have no power to inform themselves; for they are the real power that needs to be organized.

        Moctavio, spend less time on this blog, and go out in your country, and help those who really need help. Those who read your blog, don’t need help.

        • The REAL DEAL Says:

          this is why my educated Italian friends are leaving Italy for America in 2016. I think you need to take a long hike and never come back, Your advice is useless, unwanted and not needed. Useless Italians..

        • moctavio Says:

          What I am doing is not pointless, I know the victories and contributions I have had. And they are actually quite a few. I taught and did research (In Physics of all fields) for 24 years, so don’t tell me about education. I actually think I have educated a lot of people via this blog.

          What you don’t get is the title of this blog: The Devils’ Excrement. Easy money simply distorts people, politicians go for populism and the people for getting gifts. Turning back people from that will not happen in my lifetime.

          As to socialism, I hate such labels. People look out for for themselves, others second. But people tend to be good to others until Government asks them to be fanatics. And that is what happened in Venezuela. We were better off when oil was $2 a barrel.

          As for going into the country, I left, for too many reasons, but mostly for my personal safety, I spent many decades trying to stay, but Chavez beat me. What can I say.

          As for the blog, I will keep doing it and like a good scientists, trying to quantify everything, from corruption to rainfall.

        • Alexis Says:

          Your comments come out as arrogant. Disinformation must be countered with real information and thoughful analysis.

          The information from Moctavio’s blog trickles down to many others. I have frequently shared pieces of it myself, with people who would never read an online blog, much less so a blog in English.

          Moctavio’s contribution is real and significant. If you are too arrogant or ignorant to see that, please go find a new hobby.

        • ErneX Says:

          I think you need to relax Dorian and stop telling other people what to do.

    • The REAL DEAL Says:


  11. shrilly clinton Says:

    the real problem is that Venz is a catholic nation and you are breeding like flies…. too many people…. or its George Bushs fault

    • Dorian Says:

      The same can be said about the USA. It is well beyond its carry capacity. Look at California and their lack of water. Look how they import oil. Look at how they have to import food. The fault belongs to single person like the Bush family. The fault lies in the People who elect these morons. And that is where the solution is too, The People. If you want better government, then The People need to be better informed and educated, so as to vote wiser. Wisdom doesn’t come from watching quality television, as some people here seem to think.

      Remember: a government is representative of its society.

  12. LuisV Says:

    What about the fact that we changed the time zone 9 years ago? I read that going back to the original time zone will save half a centimeter of water a day. If that’s true, and you assume 200 working days a year, it’s a meter of water per year just to fuel Chavez’s whim. In 9 years, 9 meters. Maybe the problem of mismanagement starts (as does almost every problem in Venezuela), with a stupid whim that had very important unintended consequences.

    • IslandCanuck Says:

      They are saying once the rains come they will revert to the Chavez time again.

      • Daveed Says:

        Great, now they are going to be switching over and back, over and back. Next thing you know, they will be switching over and back every year- what kind of society would tolerate that idiocy?? 😉

  13. Elio Ohep Says:

    Dorian, you are 100% correct !

  14. Roberto Carlos Says:

    Dorian I am with you! #JeSuisDorian :} MO is constantly on vacation in exotic places and comes to Venezuela frequently to comment on the increases in the price of arepas. Is the price increase of arepas news to Venezuelans? Does the arepa index help change any chavista’s minds?
    On a similar note, I used to read Daniel’s blog religiously, then he started publishing very elaborate predictions on each elections cycle with multi colored Excel tables. Election after election, year after year. What a waste of time!

    My sense Dorian, is that these post and these blogs are vanity projects for their authors.

    As a matter of fact I believe these blogs make matters worse and help the government by making the authors and comenters feel they are doing something to promote change, when all they are doing is exercising their fingers. The government would rather have them sitting in front of a screen pontificating instead of “storming the castle”.

    • Dorian Says:

      Very well said Roberto!

      Once upon a time, when people were frustrated and angry, they went out on the street to protest, they went door to door, they held meetings, today every body stays at home and types on a keyboard, and they all think they are changing the world. No they are not.

      Blogs are just a vanity thing. As for this Blog here, Moctavio has been working 14 years, and thinks he is doing a good job. That’s how professors think, they work by standing in front of a class for 30 years and think they have don’t something wonderful. Nope they haven’t. I know city workers who have been digging holes for 30 years and think they have done some good. When in fact these same city workers used to go on strike every time the city wanted to automate their jobs.

      Roberto, if I worked 14 years doing something without some sort metric to tell me if I was doing any good, I would go insane. Just because you work 14 years doing the same thing doesn’t mean you have done anything constructive! That is Socialistic thinking.

      And you are right about how the government views all these blogs. They do want all these intelligentsia elitists to stay at home and write blogs, that way the can do no harm. Imagine if someone like Andrei Sakharov had the Internet in his time and wrote solely on a blog. I can tell you write now the Soviet Union would not have collapsed.

      Everybody thinks the Internet is going to make the world better. How? For every “good, honest” blogger, there are 10 maybe 100, bad ones. And governments know that. For example look at Global Warming. The whole damn argument is a mess; for thousands of opinions and no consensus, and a whole lot of stupid talk and voodoo science.

      Venezuela is sinking into hell, and all the bloggers can do is write stories to each other, while the rest of the nation are trying to feed their children.

      And alas, Italy too is slowly suffocating the same way. And yes, all the Italians do is write about it on the Internet. I refuse to do this, I try to educate those who are not on the Internet, it is very very hard. The Internet is only a veil that people use so as not to face the real challenges in society.

      Real life problems need to be tackled in real life, not virtually. Its a very hard job to do, especially when you meet face to face with real pain, suffering and ignorance. Hiding on the Internet doesn’t teach the problems in society, it only veils them from you. I tell you Roberto, my heart breaks in half when I see how backward and ignorant people are, all thanks to elitist people like Faustus, above, who think television is to blame; when in reality it is our education system and laziness of our educators.

      Thank you Roberto, for your kind words. I am glad to hear I am not alone; you have lifted my spirits a bit. Thank you.

      • Alexis Says:

        Quote: “I refuse to do this, I try to educate those who are not on the Internet, it is very very hard. The Internet is only a veil that people use so as not to face the real challenges in society.”

        How do you pretend to know who the readers of this blog are?

        I have lived several years in Venezuela although I am not even a citizen. I have worked intensively with the opposition, helped organize them, shared my IT skills, spent several thousands dollars in publicity and mobilisation.

        Heck, I am currently denied entry in Venezuela. Can you guess how that happened?

        Don’t pretend to know who we are.

      • Javier Says:

        I have read moctavio’s blog for close to 10 years now. As a Venezuelan living overseas, this and kiko’s caracaschronicles are the most reliable, unbiased and scientific source of information that interested readers have about what’s going on in Venezuela. Only by providing information to people like me, they have already accomplished a lot, and the metric used to track this could very well be the number of new and returning readers. If you think that every blog writer in the internet has in his/her agenda to change the world, with all due respect, I think you are delusional. I think most of the readers of this blog understand that a lot of the problems in Venezuela and other nations are linked to education. Unfortunately, If education is public, is controlled by those that want to keep the masses in the dark, if private, out of their reach. I am curious about your thoughts on how to overcome effectively these hurdles? For better or for worst, the internet has become the leveled ground for information/education, and although not 100% effective I think that for now, it is the best option.

        • Ira Says:

          Well said.

          And I only argue with Miguel when I’m drinking, and even then, I usually agree with him more than I disagree.

      • Ira Says:

        At least some of us are capable of typing away at the keyboard with brevity yet purpose.

        Your posts seem to lack both, and they come across as arrogant Sophist nonsense.

  15. Gisela's Husband Says:

    I read this article with great interest since I am a hydrologist and consider the relationship between rainfall and streamflow every day. I did a quick and dirty evaluation of the data you presented on a monthly and annual basis for 2015 versus the few year previous…

    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Sum
    mm/month mm/yr
    2012 165 40 205 150 170 110 135 40 50 100 100 15 1280
    2013 95 145 155 175 205 245 140 10 95 75 75 15 1430
    2014 55 15 40 95 200 110 130 75 135 255 60 10 1180
    2015 0 25 165 160 25 235 15 15 50 0 5 10 705

    This information certainly suggests that a draught is having an effect on water levels above the Guri Dam.

    Your last paragraph is absolutely correct – the lack of maintenance and corruption on so called energy projects that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars leaving the county with little or no return on investment is the biggest cause of the ongoing electricity crisis in Venezuela. For the government to blame a drought for the electricity crisis is nonsense – the lack of maintenance and actual (not false) investment in other energy sources is the real cause of the crisis.

    • Dorian Says:

      And how do you know that this data is reliable?
      We have problems with this kind of data all around the world. Agencies, including government and non-profit agencies have all been found out that they have been cooking the books.

      Typing a set of numbers is not REAL science. I am tired of this nth rate backyard casino voodoo science. Focus on the real issues, open your mind to real problems. Broaden your narrow focus to what really needs to be done. I’m a scientist too, and the last thing I would advocate, is this sort of scientific dialogue on a blog.

      What ever happened to professionalism….ah stupid question…it went out, when socialism thought it was the answer to the universe. Shhheeshhh.

  16. Rodger Farrell Says:

    Thank you very much for this data and the fine discussion. It seems to me that some missing components are these:

    — it is normal for demand to increase over the years and this needs to be planned for, as, in fact, years ago, it used to be, with addition of new units, replacement of old units, etc. It is, in fact, fairly easy to predict within reasonable limits of accuracy. Ten year projections of demand and units to supply the demand are tools of the trade.

    — no mention has been made of the effect of political distribution of many thousands of electrical appliances, ranges, air conditioners, TV, washers, to increasing the normal demand growth, in addition to the load of the new

    — in Venezuela, the demand for Guyana heavy industries is a very important part of Guri generation, and as this demand is often turned off, on, for political, and labor strife reasons, it is a variable entirely independent of normal countrywide electrical use and should be separated out in the analysis.

    — I believe it is the case that Guri is being called upon to supply every increasing amounts of the nation’s “ordinary” consumption, which really makes little sense, given its importance to feed the heavy industries (if these can ever be made to work reasonably well)

    — Where do we stand on the exansion of the other hydroelectric facilities.
    Tacoma? La Vueltosa ??

    — The overall picture of the thermal generation is dismal. What has been the result of several billion dollars of investment over recent years ??

  17. bobthebuilder Says:

    When I read the first few words I thought there might be some talk of a conspiracy to create a crisis to divert from the real crisis (the economy). But that was before I remembered Chavez was dead and we don’t have political masterstrokes on a daily basis anymore.

  18. UK observer Says:

    I have been following the facebook pages of friends and tourism guides in the Gran Sabana for the past year and lately I did find myself looking at photos of Angel Falls and of Auyantepui FULL of water falling and wondering: Hold on a sec, where is all that water going if the level of water behind the Guri dam is constantly falling……….? So thanks for this blog entry Miguel!

  19. From Brussels. Says:

    Nice post Miguel. Different opinions written after….some seem nihilistic and harsh but at the very end the problem is factual: not enough energy coming out from Guri. Poor Venezuela in the hands of the inept and corrupt ones!
    Keep writing!

  20. moctavio Says:

    Ira, look at this headline:

    El Niño close to generating energy rationing in Colombia

    • Ira Says:

      You heard me try to understand Spanish–it’s hopeless.

      So without reading that article, is Colombia’s hydroelectric generation anywhere near Guri’s best performing status? In other words, assuming a perfect Guri, all turbines spinning 24/7 but reduced levels because El Niño…

      Would Colombia still be experiencing shortages? And VZ no? And another dumb question:

      Can hydroelectric power somehow be stored?

  21. Ira Says:


    All I did was question the need or veracity of Miguel’s claims that rainfall is in any way largely responsible for VZ’s power generation problems, when I claim it’s 99% maintenance issues.

    But I won’t stand idly by and listen to morons questioning his expertise on these subjects…questioning his motives…or questioning his depth and breadth of knowledge about what’s happening in VZ these days.

    How DARE some of you shmucks questioning this man who has dedicated a decade and a half to English-language VZ news!

    What were YOU doing all this time!?

  22. Tomate Says:

    Basically what you are saying is that this is a structural problem that won’t be solved with rain. Is a matter of time before Venezuela goes dark and not much time.

    • moctavio Says:

      It could be that a lot of rain solves it for a while, but next year, with no Niño, we may see lower levels.

  23. IslandCanuck Says:

    Regardless of the cause Guri should be about to cross the 242 level into the 241 range or is already there.

    I’ve never really understood what the difference was in the level of alert between 244 and 240 although at 240 they must turn off some of the turbines.

    Estimates back in March predicted that around April 22 the problems would start.
    Have we now advanced that date??

  24. Roger Says:

    Looking the flow of the Rio Caroni, which I assume is below Guri? If X water produces X KWh and the flow has increased then, output has increased or efficiency has decreased. Do we have data for the power output over the same period? The peak output chart does not support increased demand. Just the usual Bolivarian Science that solves for an excuse!

  25. Eduardo Klein Says:

    This is a good technical analysis. But there are two main problems here. The **hydrological problem** is that last year there were no enough water in the Caroní basin to fill-up Guri to the levels that support the incoming drought. Last year Guri reached also a critical level due to reduced rain, but in late May, when normal rains that came few weeks after contributed to the recovery. This year the same level was reached but in early March with at least two months from the beginning of the rainy season. The **political problem** is that the government was incapable to take the correct measures as El Niño was known to occur since May 2015 and Guri low levels could be easily predicted back then (yes, the 2015-2016 very strong Niño probably affected the rain patterns, although historical statistical correlations between precipitation and ENSO are spurious). BTW you can follow the Guri level at Updated daily as long as CORPOELECT publish the water-level data.

    • IslandCanuck Says:

      Corpolec’s last update was April 13. @ 242.88.

      If you take the March 31 number & divide by 13 then the drop is 12.9 per day.

      That means that today, April 19 the level is around 242.11 and tomorrow 241.98

      That number is much lower than the reported .16 that it was dropping earlier (March) & was predicted to increase due to the shape of the reservoir.

      It makes me doubt Corpolec’s numbers.

    • moctavio Says:

      Do you know where to find data that is more detailed for all years?

      A friend who graduated from USB told me that she worked at Edelca 35 years ago when she was like 20 and that they had very sophisticated models of how to run and manage the dam in terms of the rain. She is now a Prof. in Canada.

  26. […] a physicist by training who lives in Miami but who visits Venezuela frequently, and it linked to a follow-up post on Miguel’s blog that contained a lot of local rainfall and stream flow data that […]

  27. m_astera Says:

    I read all the comments. I am not going to make any friends here, but then I never have.

    It is my understanding that Miguel Octavio made all of his money speculating on foreign [venezuelan] currency vs the US $ rather than in physics. Perhaps I am wrong, in which case please enlighten me.

    I think he is part of the problem.

    • HalfEmpty Says:

      He was also spotted on the Grassy Knoll and had something to do with Judge Crater.

      • Ira Says:

        Judge Crater!

        Now THERE’S an increasingly obscure reference that only old farts like me understand!

    • moctavio Says:

      Physics is a proffesion that does not allow you to make much money. I work for a broker who intermediated foreign currency, but mever especulated. Wr have a long track record of being serious and honest. Leading broker in Venezuela since 1989. We were the leading dealer instocks when they were a business. We also owned a commercial bank, which we sold. We suffered the persecution of thr Government in 2010 and all our business in Venezuela was shut down. We still act as brokers and money managers. I dont think I or we are part of the problem, intermediation of securities is a necessary activity in any country, we never worked with the Government.

      Thanks fot the baseless and needless attack.

      • LuisV Says:

        Miguel, no need to answer to these attacks. Your blog is awesome, and your fans prove it. Ignoring them is better than answering the silly allegations made in the comments.

        • moctavio Says:

          This person has been around the blog a long time, I have always considered him serious and I am surprised at the attack without checking facts first. Thus the explanation.

    • m_astera Says:

      I work in physical science, and make a living. Soil chemistry e.g.

      Your answer says little. Do you or do you not make a profit on the depreciation of the Bolivar vs the US $.

      • moctavio Says:

        Clearly you don’t understand the difference between intermediation and speculation. When we did swaps (They have been illegal since 2010) We intermediate currency, i.e. made a spread between bid and ask. Whether the currency was going up or not was absolutely irrelevant. Client called to buy, company found seller and INTERMEDIATED the currency.

        Not very good for a scientist to make charges without checking facts before. I have written this blog for 14 years, a shitload of stuff, and I always check facts before I write.

        You could have had at least the courtesy to ask in private. Now I know better.

        • moctavio Says:

          BTW, that is what brokers do.

          And I think I answered too much for your very offensive statement.

          Maybe you are part of the problem that you can so easily make charges like that?

      • IslandCanuck Says:

        Miguel m_astera used to (or still does) live in Isla Margarita.

        He fully well knows what the spread difference on currencies is and the part of brokers in this system in years past.
        I’m fairly sure that while he was in Venezuela he tool advantage of the black market so I really don’t understands his criticism unless he just wants to stir the pot.

        His last question shows his poor reading comprehension.
        He’s acting as a troll.

    • m_astera Says:

      “BTW, that is what brokers do.”

      Yes, fine. Thanks for answering my question, finally, if in a weasely manner. You made money betting against the Venezuelan currency. I have no problem with that as long as it is honestly stated.

      • moctavio Says:

        Boy you really want to insult. Weasily? Just because you dont read, it is not my fault.

        We did not make money betting against the currency. We had clients that wanted to buy. We would look for a seller and sell it to them. I made money on the spread. I was not betting whether it went up or down. I structured a swap to allow the transaction to be legal and provided the service to my client. If the currency went down, we made money, if it went up, we made money. There is no “betting against the Venezuelan currency” involved. Companies bought dollars to continue to run their business. And sometimes between 2003 and 2010 it went down for loooong periods of time. And we still did what we did.

        So, dont be a weasel putting wrong words into my mouth.

        Are you that dense and stupid or you just have a grudge somewhere?


      • moctavio Says:

        And please don’t question my honesty. My first answer was more than I should have answered. Just because you are ignorant, it is not my fault you did not understand. You did not understand the second one either.

        • RobertoN Says:

          Miguel, this guy is clearly an asshole. I understood the first explanation and I am not even in a technical field. The second one was as insulting and the last one was putting words in your mouth.

          Ignore him!

          • CanadianObserver Says:

            You made money off the exchange controls by providing a way for exchanging currency. As simple as that. That long term the currency, depreciated is and was irrelevant.

            • moctavio Says:

              That is correct. If the dollar had stayed at Bs. 2.5/$ for years, it would have been the same for us.

      • m_astera Says:

        “We had clients that wanted to buy. We would look for a seller and sell it to them.”

        Sell what?

        • m_astera Says:

          I don’t care what you do for a living as long as it is honest. I object to someone who makes a living on the corrupt chavista currency and then complains about the very system they are making money from. I only brought it up because of your complaints about not making a living in physics. Correct me if I am wrong, please.

          • moctavio Says:

            You are wrong. Will not waste my time.

            And I did not quit Physics because of my salary. Again, please don’t put words in my mouth Astera.

  28. IslandCanuck Says:

    Don’t know if I believe this or not but according to the Govenor:

    “Le informo a los cuatro profetas del desastre que el lago de Guri está subiendo”, indicó el gobernador Francisco Rangel Gómez -el martes/

    Para este martes quedó establecida 249.60 msnm y el miércoles -hasta las 3:00 p.m.- era de 249.58.”

    He’s saying that the level is now at 249.58
    Hopefully it’s true.

    • IslandCanuck Says:

      It now appears, as I expected, that this account of Rangel Gomez is puro paja.
      With the announcements of Maduro last night it seems that the problems are far from resolved.
      There has been no official update, as of this morning, on the Corpolec site since April 13.

  29. Ron Larson Says:

    May I try to clarify the situation you describe here with some facts as I understand them?

    The Caroni river is downstream of the Guri Hydroelectric Dam. Correct?

    The lake level is lowering. This indicate that they are draining the lake faster than it is being fed.

    The watershed feed is close to normal based in meteorological measurement of the watershed area.

    This indicates that the draining rate is extraordinarily high because it is draining normal rainfall input volumes PLUS the reserves in the lake.

    The Caroni river’s unusually high levels collaborate these facts.

    You speculate that they are draining the lake at the higher rate in order to compensate for less efficient power generation.

    It is not clear it is the Guri equipment that is running less efficiently. Or it is other dams in other parts of the country that is less efficient.

    This could also be easily explained by they are running Guri faster in order to compensate for the reduction in output of other dams that are impacted by the drought. If true, then the claim that El Nino is the blame, AND that the Caroni is high, AND the watershed rainfall is normal, is correct.

    Not that love the current government. But I just wanted to point out that there is a possible rational explanation for this.

    • moctavio Says:

      Ron: But the shortage seems to be coming from the thermoelectric side, not the hydrolectric side.

      • Ron Larson Says:

        Thermoelectric? VZ has thermo powered turbines? Don’t you need a fault zone for that? Like Iceland, Japan, etc?

        Still. If the thermoelectric generators aren’t producing enough power (for whatever reasons), then that could still explain why they are oversubscribing the Guri dam to compensate and feed power to the national grid.

      • Ramón Says:

        It is curious, there are lots and lots of information but no clear conclusions… Anyway, it was an interesting post but the most interesting part, as usual, was in the comments section. m_astera was a troll, at least in this post, and the owner of this blog provided way too many explanations. They were interesting because I knew nothing about you (I started to read you one or two years ago) but I think the most intelligent thing to do in cases like these is to ignore people like him. Earning money selling and buying something is not a sin. Many people think that if you win in the transaction you are stealing. They would never think that you are happily giving away money to others when you lose but that’s what they should think if they keep applying the same logic.

        It was also interesting (probably I should say endearing) the naiveté of the patronizing and condescending Italian reader.

        Whatever it is, thanks for the information and I will keep checking this blog every so often.

        • moctavio Says:

          Ramon: Thanks, when this blog started in 2002 my name was everywhere and there even was a small description of who I was. As things got more difficult in Venezuela and I received threats, I tried to erase my name, but found out that could not remove it from the comments. Later, a major international newspaper named me by name and connected me with my job. I have always tried to separate me from my job, this is a personal blog.

          I am a physicist by training, worked 24 years at IVIC doing research until I gave up, I moved to a local broker where I have been since then. There I have done research analysis, asset management and whatever was necessary. Great job!

          I have corresponded privately with this reader who has been reading my blog for years, thus my attempt to explain, I have nothing to hide. And I think I am very straight forward.

          Oh well!

          • Ramón Says:

            OK, everything is clearer now… Thanks again for your posts and let’s hope Venezuela gets rid of the scourge of Chavismo as soon as possible.

            good luck from Spain

  30. Dr. Faustus Says:

    A red, bean-filled sack of some sort is thrown onto the playing field. OT! No, wait, on-topic! What is the status of the Guri dam AFTER the rain? Did the rain affect the water levels, …or not? Someone please comment on this, after reviewing the re-play of course

    • Dr. Faustus Says:

      The rain didn’t help. This just out from Bloomberg:
      “Water levels at Guri continue to fall to the 240 meter-mark that would force authorities to shut down the plant. The dam is currently at 242.07 meters.”

      Oh my.

  31. Roger Says:

    Back to the power demand chart. The loss of oil-gas powered generation would have to be dramatic to shift the load to Guri and we know some of them have failed. Another possibility is that the chart is billed consumption and the loss of paying industry and more people and the government bypassing meters is the reason for it showing lower demand when in fact it has increased at about the same rate. Also, export to Colombia and Brazil could have increased.

  32. moctavio Says:

    This is the same map as in the post, but five days later. For this period, accumulated rain did not change much in the back of the basin.

  33. Lee Kuan Yew Says:

    And people keep talking about “incompetence” or even “el niño” and the weather trying to explain Chavismo’s disasters.

    When it always simply comes down to 1 simple, simple thing: Galactic Corruption. Astronomical Theft. Everywhere, at every level, not just the Derwicks that’s stole a Billion, or the politicians. Every one, almost, from the low-level Corpoelec workers to the managers: Most are THIEVES, as simple as that, or at least complicit with the corrupt regime.

    Look no further than that. Forget el Niño or whatever. And it’s not really “Incompetence” at all either. There are still plenty of qualified Engineers that know exactly what to do, how to fix things, what proper maintenance should be, know all about forecasts, electricity demand and probable outputs, know exactly how to fix the entire electrical grid.

    But their hands are tied. Why? You guessed it. Massive Corruption. They don’t Maintain anything because there is no Money to Steal in Maintenance, comprende? Everything in Kleptozuela has to be a Guiso, a “cuanto hay pa’ eso, “como quedo yo ahi?” Tigre y mas Tigre. No one works for ?minimum salaries..” wake up. It doesn’t buy you 3 arepas. Almost everyone, at all levels, in every industry, public or private, is Enchufado or complicit in one way or another. Bribes everywhere. Cash deals under the table. In every small town, for every single construction project, every “contratista”, most Corpoelec or Guri employees, all with dirty hands at Stealing monies in many ways.

    THAT is why there are problems everywhere, electricity, infrastructure of all kinds. CORRUPTION. That’s why they don’t maintain or build anything new, unless there is a massive GUISO.

    You can all waste your time with fancy charts, statistics, or philosophical explanations about “incompetence” or “the weather”. When it’s so very freaking simple: Galactic Embezlement, at all levels, almost everyone getting some piece of the pie. No need to scratch your heads so much.

  34. Lee Kuan Yew Says:

    This happens of course because there is ZERO Justice in Kleptozuela, zero accountability, 99.9% impunity for any crime or theft. No separation of powers, no judges, no jail time for white-collar or blue collar Theft.

    Thus, everyone knows they will get away with stealing every week, as much as they can. Union workers, small-time engineers, technicians of el Guri, I bet 90% of them are getting bribes or money from somewhere. Otherwise how do they survive with their meager salaries? The system is designed to practically force everyone to Steal, get their hands dirty. That, or you go hungry and very poor. The Castro-Chavista Regimes are designed to allow for people everywhere to steal, become complicit, in a World-Record 37 “Ministries”, with over 5 Million public employees, for starters.

    And when every one around you is in some Guiso, everyone you know somewhere somehow getting cash money, and you see they live better than you, shamelessly, and no one is caught for stealing the Guri money, or Corpoelec’s budget, or in any other industry, chances are you are also going to be corrupted, and steal for your family too. Not all, but most Venezuelans remaining are in some shady deal. You can bet your kids’ college funds on that.

    And that is why there is no water, no electricity, no new roads or hospitals, no food, no spare parts, because the money is stolen, no one pays taxes, no one goes to jail for any crime. Thus, no maintenance, no Guri, no Pro-Energy Power Plants, those funds simply disappear, at all levels, not just the fat bolichicos and the politicians..

  35. moses Says:

    From 12 Apr to 21 Apr levels have dropped from 14 – 18 cms per day to 10 – 11 cm per day. Last public known level is 242,07 mts. in 21 Apr. We have 15 – 20 days until we get to 240 mts, but probably the Casa de Maquinas II, most recent and higher group of Francis Turbines / AC generators of Guri Dam will be taken out of service before arriving to that level. I understand that Casa de Maquinas II turbines have never been operated at such low levels…

  36. moses Says:

    Here is a presentation that says what is estimated will happen if Guri is operated under 240 Mts:

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