The Price Tag of the Blackout

The damage from the huge blackout that just attacked Venezuelans is such, that even now, a week later, we can’t quite grasp it in full. This is what we do know: it’s a lot, and we’re falling short.

Photo: Public Radio International, retrieved.

The recent nationwide blackout in Venezuela caused incalculable damages that go way beyond money: according to ONG Codevida, 19 dialysis patients died and Dr. Julio Castro speaks of at least other 24 deaths in hospitals, directly related to the lack of electricity. There are at least three confirmed deaths during the riots in Zulia, and many all over the nation go hungry or sick for days, without access to food or medical care.

The blackout further ravaged an already unraveling economy. According to figures from the Central Bank, Venezuela’s GDP halved during the last five years, and a report by the Venezuelan National Assembly pointed an annual hyperinflation rate of 830,000%, likely to keep rising. There’s a sharp decline in oil production too, with dwindling export revenue, a shortage of skilled staff and other operational problems (two tanks of diluents at PDVSA Petro San Felix Projects also exploded, in an incident that’s not quite clear yet). Even before the blackout, public services were on the verge of collapsing, so you can imagine the effects of the recent events. A national infrastructure sick with horrid neglect.

The Blackout in numbers

Bloomberg reports that, after the blackout, oil production dropped 50% from 1.1 million barrels per day to around 0.5 million barrels, a 50% drop. This represents a loss of around $32.9 million daily, for a total of around $197 million in just six days, and we’re still counting.

The recent nationwide blackout in Venezuela caused incalculable damages that go way beyond money.

There was also the shutdown of 73 aluminium reduction cells in the Venalum and Alcasa processing plants in Puerto Ordaz, Bolivar, cells that cannot be used again and represent a massive production blow. The cost of replacing each cell is around $240K, so we’re talking of about $14.1 million here.

Empresas Polar, a massive Venezuelan conglomerate of food processing and distribution, report losses close to $5.6 million, in stolen merchandise during looting in Zulia, and over $5.6 million worth of rotten meat and dairy products, due to the blackout.

Now, during the riots in Zulia, 22 supermarkets, 30 bakeries, 20 pharmacies and at least six shopping malls were looted. At Sambil mall alone, over 100 shops were ransacked. The Maracaibo Chamber of Commerce calculated losses to be around $50 million, a figure that’s preliminary and will probably be higher at the end of this whole mess.

This totals a sum of over $270 million, and that’s just what we can determine today, all caused by the criminal incompetence of a government that prioritizes keeping obvious truths from coming out over the actual well-being of its people. This, in a country with rampant malnourishment and a massive medicine shortage, gives a whole new meaning to the “criminal negligence” expression, an understatement for what chavismo did over the last few days, when warnings made over years finally came true.