A mysterious oil spill at Puerto Sandino during Semana Santa has leaked sticky evidence of what is apparently a secretive and lucrative oil-exporting business that ALBA de Nicaragua (ALBANISA) is running on the side, according to an investigative report published today in La Prensa.
The daily cites import and export records from Venezuela, El Salvador and Nicaragua as proof that ALBANISA, a company tied to Nicaragua’s first family, exported $204 million worth of oil to El Salvador in 2011. ALBANISA, a company that operates in a cloud of secrecy and privilege, won’t address the claims. The Nicaraguan Institute of Energy (INE) claims it has no control over the situation.
Public declarations made after last month’s oil spill in Puerto Sandino offer additional proof that something strange is going on behind the scenes. After the spill was initially and erroneously blamed on Puma Energy, the Swiss oil company issued a statement that carefully explained that the leak had nothing to do with them but came from a “50-year-old disused pipe.”
Since then, no one has been able to explain how or why oil was leaking from a supposedly “disused pipe,” or to whom the oil belonged.
La Prensa alleges that the leaked oil was sloppy evidence of the secretive exporting business that ALBANISA is managing on the side with Alba Petróleos de El Salvador. The spill was apparently a product of a year-old practice run that the government has been running before it can finish its Supreme Dream of Bolívar oil refinery and starts exporting oil on a massive level.
The opposition daily claims Nicaragua has already exported $34 million worth of crude oil this year alone.
A closer look at the numbers makes even less sense. According to an investigative report by economist Adolfo Acevedo, Venezuela last year exported 16.5 million barrels of oil to Nicaragua, while Nicaragua reported imports of only 11.6 million barrels of oil, meaning 5 million barrels of oil—or $508.7 million worth of “black gold”—is unaccounted for.
The government of Nicaragua has not commented on the controversy.