Gas cuts began in the middle of the cold wave: what are the two latent risks facing the Government

Gas cuts began in the middle of the cold wave: what are the two latent risks facing the Government
Gas cuts began in the middle of the cold wave: what are the two latent risks facing the Government

The government reported measures to ensure gas supply to priority users (Illustrative Image Infobae)

The polar cold waves They arrived earlier than expected to Argentina and the shooting of the energy consumption, showed the weaknesses of the local system. Due to lower availability of natural gas and infrastructure with respect to that necessary to supply urban centers caused the Government to manage interruptions in CNG filling stations and in industries to guarantee the supply of fluid to the residential userswhose demand is considered “priority”.

In it Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA) The extreme cold that began on Wednesday will be felt more strongly this Saturday and will remain at least until the middle of next week. This was reported by the National Meteorological Service (SMN). It is in that framework that the National Gas Regulatory Entity (Enargas) instructed the distributors to identify the users who could suffer cuts in order to maneuver the supply in what is administratively defined as a state of “pre-emergency”.

The first affected were the “interruptible contracts”, which are where the cuts begin to manage the capacity to transport gas to homes more efficiently. These types of agreements, unlike those that are “firm”, are more economical and mainly cover some 200 stations that supply CNG located mainly in the AMBA and some industrial users.

Residential gas consumption skyrocketed and the supply of CNG had to be interrupted in some parts of the country. (D&N)

On the other hand, distributors also resorted to gas cuts in industries that have “firm, but with a window” contracts. These types of interruptions usually occur in winter, they are for a certain volume of cubic meters and they are the “second lever” that exists to maneuver the fluid supply. Specifically, sometimes the minimum necessary service is left so as not to harm the plant.

There are two latent risks that the company wants to avoid. Secretary of Energy that drives Eduardo Rodríguez Chirillo. The first risk is that the gas shortage is felt in the plants in which the fluid is burned to generate electricity, that is, it translates into scheduled power cuts. For this, Energía asked Cammesa to use gas transportation only up to the technical minimum and use liquid fuels to sustain electricity demand.

The other risk, ruled out by the Government and the distributors, is that there will be residential gas supply cuts. In principle, these clients are “uninterruptible” and a cut would imply great dangers for the safety of the population.

This officially declared “pre-emergency” occurs in the context of lower temperatures than expected for this time of year, supply planning that turned out to be deficient, and the savings in both imports and works that the Government sought to sustain the surplus. fiscal. For example, this week Cammesa went out to tender urgently for shipments of gasoil and fuel oil which will cost the Treasury about USD 500 million, an expense that was not originally planned.

The lack of infrastructure puts the gas supply for this winter in question (REUTERS/Martin Cossarini)

A clear example is the delay in the “full” start-up of the Néstor Kichner Gasduct, which currently operates at half its capacity due to the import problems that occurred with the previous Government and the current management’s brake on allocations for public works. Regarding that, this year a second regasification vessel was not contracted for the port of Bahía Blanca.

A sector source pointed out against official “improvisation”. “Megsa, which is the electronic Gas market, had two LNG tenders for gas distributors that if we had that fuel today we would not have the problems we have now and they were deserted, this shows that there is a clear lack of review because they did not know how to do a policy that the new distributors will accept,” he explained.

This situation raises a question about whether Argentina will have sufficient supply for its energy demand in winter. For example, the reversal project of the Northern Gas Pipeline to reverse the gas flow that comes from Bolivia to take the fluid from Vaca Muerta to Córdoba, Tucumán, La Rioja, Catamarca, Santiago del Estero, Salta and Jujuy, will not be completed in its entirety. for the beginning of the winter period, as planned in 2023.

This implies the need to import gas so that the north of the country does not suffer shortages, since since July Bolivia, by contract, could cut shipments due to the decline suffered by the neighboring country in its production.

The Government points out that the main current problem in the country’s natural gas supply is that the transportation system is facing a major disinvestment as a result of years of tariff freezes. That is why, they say, the pipelines do not support the gas that demand needs.

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