Sunday, September 17, 2006

Tocoma rising 

No sooner did we finish watching one huge hydroelectric project get inaugurated than another similar project is in full swing.

Both projects are in the hydroelectric potential rich Lower Caroni River Basin. This river basin has a hydroelectric potential of 24,229 Megawatts of power. As can be seen from the following diagram the dams have been built or are being built at different locations along the same river as it descends from the Guyana highlands to the huge Orinoco river which ultimately drains into the Caribbean sea.

Two dams had been constructed decades ago – the Guri and Macagua. Chavez just months ago finished the Caruachi dam. Together these three dams currently generate 72% of Venezuela’s electricity.

Chavez has now initiated the construction of the capstone – the Tocoma Hydroelectric Dam. This project, which is costing $3 billion dollars, will generate another 2,160 Megawatts when completed. This is equivalent to the consumption of 69,000 barrels of oil per day. Given that Venezuela very heavily subsidizes all domestic oil consumption anything that reduces oil consumption in Venezuela and allows that oil to be exported is very good news. If oil stays anywheres near $60 per barrel this dam should pay for itself within a few years.

Just for a sense of scale look for the huge dump trucks that look absolutely tiny in this picture

From these pictures we can see that the coffer dams are completed and the main part of the dam structure is now starting to rise.

It’s good to have what Chavez is building documented photographically. Otherwise the opposition will claim that someone in eastern Caracas who sketched a dam on the back of an envelope in an outdoor café should get all the credit.


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