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Rusty tanks float on an oil spill in the Orinoco Belt, near El Tigre in Anzoategui state on Oct. 12, 2018.

Rusty tanks float on an oil spill in the Orinoco Belt, near El Tigre in Anzoategui state on Oct. 12, 2018.

Photographer: Bloomberg

Venezuela Is Leaking Oil Everywhere

The once-mighty PDVSA is polluting waterways and farmland, unable to clean up its messes after years of neglect, scant investment and corruption scandals.

From a distance, the scene is beautiful, a dark pool shimmering under the midday sun, reflecting billowing clouds. But when you close in on the dirt-packed trail leading toward a trio of storage tanks, a pungent odor makes it clear. It’s not pretty; it’s an oil spill.

In this one spot in the Orinoco Belt, a region in Venezuela named for the river that flows above the world’s largest deposits of crude, so many barrels have escaped from underground pipes that a 2,150-square-foot pit around the tanks is filled to the brim. The country is pockmarked with these messes, as Petroleos de Venezuela’s infrastructure rots after years of neglect, scant investment and corruption scandals under the regimes of the late Hugo Chavez and his successor as president, Nicolas Maduro.