Paso Diablo power station

From Global Energy Monitor


Paso Diablo power station or Zulia power station was a proposed 1000-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Mara, Guajira, Zulia, Venezuela.


The map below shows Mara, the approximate location where the plant would be built.

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In December 2012, Argenis Chávez, president of Venezuela's national electricity corporation Corpoelec announced that the government was planning to build a coal-fired power plant in Zulia, a coal-rich region near the Colombian border in northwestern Venezuela that accounts for 99% of the country's coal reserves. The plant's output was initially estimated at 500 to 1000 megawatts.[1][2] In December 2013, while unveiling the state's 2013-2016 Socialist Development Plan, Zulia's governor Francisco Javier Arias confirmed that studies were underway for a coal power project that could generate 1000 MW and stated that the region had enough coal to last for 50 years at that rate.[3]

Environmentalists and community groups immediately launched protests, citing concerns about potential pollution of the Guasare and Socuy rivers and displacement of the indigenous Wayuu people who live near the proposed plant, which they expect will be located adjacent to Paso Diablo mine, Venezuela's largest source of coal.[4][5][6]

Debate over the proposed plant intensified in 2015 after Venezuela's government issued presidential decree 1606, which opened up 24,192 hectares in the Sierra del Perijá for coal development, in part to supply the proposed 1000-megawatt plant. Article 2 of the decree stipulated that Carbones del Zulia, S.A., an affiliate of Venezuela's national energy company PDVSA, would have the right to develop mines in the newly opened lands and granted a 30-year lease for coal development (including construction of the new coal-fired plant) to the Chinese firm Sinohydro, which has previously partnered with PDVSA in developing Venezuela's diesel- and natural gas-fueled El Palito and La Cabrera power plants.[7][8][9]

Environmental groups and indigenous residents of the affected area vigorously protested against the February 10 presidential decree, warning that it would lead to irreversible ecological damage, including pollution of the Socuy, Guasare, Maché, and Cachirí watersheds. Protestors asserted that the 30-year development term granted in the presidential decree would likely result in the opening of new mines in the environmentally sensitive Socuy basin, because coal supplies in the existing Norte and Paso Diablo mines are expected to begin running out in 2022.[10]

On August 27, 2015, in what was seen as a partial victory for environmentalists, the Venezuelan government issued an amendment to its February 10 decree, limiting the scope of the lands opened to coal development to 7249 hectares and asserting that coal for the new power plant would only be taken from existing mines[11][12], but local opponents of coal development including the environmental group FREZ (Frente de Resistencia Ecológica del Zulia) remain concerned.[13][14]

As of May 2019 there has been no further news about the project and it appears to be cancelled.

Project Details

  • Sponsor: PDVSA, Corpoelec (Corporación Eléctrica Nacional)
  • Parent company: PDVSA, Corpoelec (Corporación Eléctrica Nacional)
  • Location: Mara, Guajira, Zulia, Venezuela
  • Coordinates: 10.902, -72.236 (approximate)
  • Status: Cancelled
  • Gross Capacity: 1000 MW
  • Type:
  • Projected in service:
  • Coal Type:
  • Coal Source:
  • Source of financing:

Articles and resources


  1. "Corpoelec construirá carboeléctrica en Zulia,", Correo del Orinoco, December 8, 2012.
  2. "Corpoelec anuncia que retoma obra del proyecto de Carboeléctrica,", Diario La Verdad, December 9, 2012.
  3. Jean Castillo. "Arias Cárdenas afirma que estudian generar 1.000 megavatios de energía con carbón (Fotos+Vídeo) | YVKE Mundial". (in español). Retrieved 2021-05-10.
  4. "Chacón y Arias, y la carboeléctrica del Zulia,", Aporrea, October 16, 2013.
  5. "Carbón y Carboeléctrica: negocios de unos pocos, contaminación para muchos,", Clorofilazul blog, November 23, 2013.
  6. "Desde PDVSA/Carbozulia, Ministerio de Energía y la Gobernación del Zulia se conjura la muerte de los ríos Guasare, Socuy y Maché y el desplazamiento de los pueblos wayuu aledaños,", Aporrea, December 28, 2013.
  7. "Maduro Signs Decree to Re-Open Controversial Coal Mines for Chinese Development,",, April 7, 2015.
  8. "Empresa china SynoHidro amenaza las tierras comunitarias Wayuu y el agua de Maracaibo". (in español). Retrieved 2021-05-10.
  9. "Decreto presidencial amenaza a la Sierra de Perijá,", La Razón, June 30, 2015.
  10. "Ambientalistas se oponen a la instalación de planta carboeléctrica en Sierra de Perijá,", Correo del Orinoco, April 23, 2015.
  11. "Modifican Decreto 1.606 que autorizaba la explotación de carbón en Zulia,", La Razón, September 1, 2015.
  12. "VENEZUELA- Amendment of the Decree 1,606: A victory for Wayuu and Yukpa communities,", Latin American Mining Monitoring Programme, September 7, 2015.
  13. "Carboeléctrica suena más en problemas de contaminación que generación,", Diario La Verdad, October 18, 2015.
  14. Suárez Luque, María (2017-05-18). "La política del despojo: el conflicto territorial del pueblo yukpa de la Sierra de Perijá (Venezuela)". Trayectorias Humanas Trascontinentales. doi:10.25965/trahs.141. ISSN 2557-0633.

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