Puerto América export terminal

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of Venezuela and coal
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The Puerto América export terminal, also known as the Puerto Bolívar export terminal or the Puerto Hugo Chávez export terminal, was a proposed coal export terminal on the Gulf of Venezuela in Zulia, Venezuela. The terminal would be built on the islands of San Carlos, San Bernardo, Pájaros, and Zapara near the mouth of the Lago de Maracaibo.

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Since the late 1980s, Venezuelan government agencies have been considering the construction of a deep water port on the Gulf of Venezuela, to include a coal terminal capable of handling up to 30 million tonnes of coal exports annually. The coal to be exported would be transported by rail from the mines of Zulia and Táchira states (Venezuela) and Norte de Santander department (Colombia).[1]

Venezuelan coal production has traditionally been limited by two factors: 1) lack of rail infrastructure to transport coal from the Guasare Basin (Venezuela's main coal mining region) to ports on the Caribbean coast, and 2) limited coal storage and processing capacity at the nation's ports. In 2004, in a bid to strengthen Venezuela's coal sector, president Hugo Chávez called for construction of Puerto América, a significant new port at the mouth of Lago de Maracaibo, to be connected to the Sierra de Perijá mining region via a newly constructed railway[2]. However, neither the port nor the railway was constructed during Chávez's tenure.

In August 2016, prospects for development of the port and railway project appear to have been revived with the passage of a new law (Ley Programa Para El Saneamiento Del Lago De Maracaibo Y De Su Cuenca Hidrográfica) by Venezuela's national assembly calling for cleanup of the Lago de Maracaibo.[3] Article 11c of the law calls for the planning and construction of new port and rail infrastructure outside of Lake Maracaibo's waters to handle international exports of of petroleum products and petrochemicals.[4]

Venezuelan environmentalists, led by University of Zulia Professor Lusbi Portillo and the NGO Sociedad Homo et Natura, contend that the port specified in Article 11c would also logically handle exports of coal from Venezuela and Colombia.[5] Given the fact that a typical deep water port requires channel depths of up to 42 feet (12.8 meters)[6], in contrast to the Gulf of Venezuela's natural depth of 11.5 feet (3.5 meters)[7], environmentalists further assert that the proposed port would require substantial sea floor dredging, inflicting severe damage on local fisheries and wildlife.[8]

Between 2017 and 2021 there were no developments on this proposal, likely due to the ongoing economic and political crisis within Venezuela, and it appears to be cancelled.

Project Details

  • Operator:
  • Location: Zulia, Venezuela
  • Annual Coal Capacity (Tonnes): 30 million
  • Status: Cancelled
  • Type: Exports
  • Sources of coal: Zulia and Táchira states, Venezuela; Norte de Santander department, Colombia

Articles and resources

Related GEM.wiki articles


  1. Lusbi Portillo "Otra vez Puerto América," Aporrea, July 2, 2016
  2. " Wikipedia, accessed February 2018
  3. "Ley Programa Para El Saneamiento Del Lago De Maracaibo Y De Su Cuenca Hidrográfica," Asamblea Nacional de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, August 2, 2016
  4. "Ley Programa Para El Saneamiento Del Lago De Maracaibo Y De Su Cuenca Hidrográfica (page 6)," Asamblea Nacional de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, August 2, 2016
  5. "La engañosa ley Programa para el Saneamiento del Lago de Maracaibo y de su Cuenca Hidrográfica," Venezuela Originaria, June 27, 2016
  6. "Venezuela: La salvación del Lago de Maracaibo no es cerrarlo para construir Puerto Bolívar," Red Latina Sin Fronteras, May 13, 2014
  7. "Ley de Saneamiento del Lago de Maracaibo: ¿Una propuesta para reconsiderar?," Universidad del Zulia, May 19, 2017
  8. "Lusbi Portillo: Pretenden dragar el lago de Maracaibo," La Razón, May 13, 2014

External resources

External articles