The Energy Crystal Ball

Gaze Into the Future of Alternative Energy and Energy Sources in Preparation for a World Without Oil

Friday, July 01, 2005

Venezuela to Prove Wind Can Bring Independence From Oil

Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA aims to boost fuel oil exports by about 100,000 barrels a month through the increased use of wind for electric power generation, Nervis Villalobos, the president of state-owned electricity firm Cadafe and deputy energy and oil minister, told BNamericas.

PDVSA and Cadafe want to take advantage of high international oil prices and at the same time develop an environmentally friendly source of power generation, Villalobos said.

"For PDVSA and for the country, there is an enormous attraction in being able to free up these liquid fuels and export them," Villalobos said.

A barrel of fuel oil "is worth US$4 in the domestic market, while abroad it sells for US$40," Villalobos said.

PDVSA is currently involved in two projects that would use wind to generate electricity, Villalobos said.

The first project was announced by PDVSA president and energy and oil minister Rafael Ramírez in April in the wake of an electricity mishap that left PDVSA's Amuay refinery - part of the CRP refining complex - without power for several days.

This US$50mn venture at Los Taques, a wind-swept stretch of beach (the Not in My Backyard crowd in the US would kill it) in Falcón state near PDVSA's CRP complex, would generate up to 100MW, including 40MW during its first stage.

PDVSA and the Spanish-Venezuelan consortium that designed the project, VER, are currently deciding on how to finance it, Villalobos said. Cadafe would buy 100% of the power generated by the plant.

The project should be up and running "by mid 2007, if it's approved this year," since construction is expected to take at least 18 months, Villalobos said.

The second wind project in the northern part of Sucre state is still in a very early stage, Villalobos said.

Villalobos reiterated Cadafe's estimate of a 9% jump in power demand for Venezuela this year, up from 7% in 2004. If these wind projects are not put in place, more fuel oil will have to be devoted to thermoelectric generation rather than exported, he said.

By Carlos CamachoBNamericas.com

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