Despite the electoral campaign, one of the agendas maintained by the Minister of Economy, Sergio Massa, is the energetic one. These days there are negotiations in the Treasury Palace to advance the infrastructure works necessary for gas from Dead cow reach northern Argentina. Besides, They debate with Bolivia the price of using the existing infrastructure to also aspire to reach São Paulo, in Brazil. The last official campaign act that the UP presidential candidate will do will be the inauguration of the pipeline to expand crude oil exports to Chile.
In 2023 Argentina will end with a balance in energy matters, after 2022 with a historic deficit. However, for 2024 in Economics they see a scenario of saving energy imports of US$ 7,000 millionwhich will be significant for the country to once again have energy surplussomething that has not happened since 2010.
To reach these numbers, on the one hand they plan to move towards energy supply to the domestic market. In this sense, a month ago the Government launched the tender for the Reversal of the Northern Gasduct, to bring the energy of Vaca Muerta to the provinces of northern Argentina. Although it has not yet been awarded, the state company Energía Argentina (former Enarsa) moved forward with the purchase of pipes from the Tenaris companywithin the framework of stage 1 of the NK gas pipeline.
For that reason, Javier Martínez Álvarez, president of Tenaris, revealed: “We received the order to provide the pipes for the reversal and within 24 hours the first sheets were already being rolled. It is an extraordinary job with Enarsa and Industria, we have to run again, because we have to arrive before winter, due to the risk of poor supply from Bolivia. But we already did it once, with the first section of the gas pipeline, so it will be a challenge.”
Massa’s aspiration is to arrive with this work for the May 22, 2024. The urgency is because, although Argentina has a contract with Bolivia until 2026, the neighboring country cannot ensure firm supply, and there is a risk of supply for next winter. Even if the works are completed, “northern Argentina will live off of Vaca Muerta,” they say in Economía. And the contract with Bolivia will end, after almost 20 years.
Anyway, there is another negotiation underway with Bolivia: how take advantage of existing infrastructure between Bolivia and Brazil so that Argentina achieves bring the gas from Vaca Muerta to the San Pablo industry. “Bolivia is willing to sign for 10 years, but they want a very expensive contract To recover its decline, we hope that negotiations advance with more reasonable prices,” mentioned a high-ranking Economy source.
In fact, Daniel RidelenerCEO of TGN, said at the AOG 2023 expo that “all the infrastructure to reach São Paulo is in place”, through the TBG (Brazilian Bolivia-Brazil Gas Pipeline (TBG). However, he revealed that there is a sensitive issue: “The negotiation tripartite between Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil is the most sensitive issue because of how the three actors will reach an agreement.”
Besides, In the coming weeks the tender for the second section of the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline will be launchedwhich will have 467 kilometers, from Salliqueló to San Jerónimo, in Santa Fe. In September it will go out to call the pipe supply companies, while in October there will be the tender for the construction of that section.
To give entity to the energy sector in the electoral campaign, Massa will choose to do his last act in Neuquén, before he is unable to continue campaigning within the framework of the electoral calendar. It will be for the inauguration of the Vaca Muerta Norte oil pipelinewhich will allow increasing transport capacity and export crude oil to Chile. He could even be accompanied by governors Omar Gutiérrez (current of Neuquén), Rolando Figueroa (recently elected) and Alberto Weretilnek, who will be governor of Río Negro for the third time.
At the Argentina Oil & Gas exhibition, the most relevant in the sector, which took place last week in La Rural, more than a dozen CEOs from the sector agreed on the need to think of Vaca Muerta as a “regional market”. Although they questioned the country’s macroeconomic challenges, they see it as positive that the energy agenda is present in the three parties with the possibility of achieving the presidency.