Venezuela’s state-owned energy company, Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PdVSA), has delayed re-opening the Amuay oil refinery following a massive explosion.
Coming only months before the next election, this incident is shining a light on President Chávez’s weak record on infrastructure. The blast, which killed 50 people, is just one of several recent failures involving bridges, roads, and more. His opponents point out that this is the result of official negligence, as The Wall Street Journal reports:
“Maintenance does not win votes,” said Leonardo Mata, president of the Venezuelan Society of civil engineering. “The government is interested in political benefits, not preventative measures.”
In an annual report submitted to the National Assembly in March, PdVSA said a series of refinery-upkeep efforts last year were delayed until 2012 due to what it called the “low availability of materials.” Amuay was among the facilities that had maintenance delayed.
We’ve joked before that Chávez was the kind of leader who could drive a resource-rich nation into an oil shortage. If the infrastructural decay continues, there won’t be anything funny about the results for Venezuela’s people.