delays in the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline and in public works

delays in the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline and in public works
delays in the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline and in public works

The beginning of the gas cuts to industry this fall to avoid major problems in the energy supply (such as blackouts or scheduled electricity interruptions) has multiple reasons.

The main one has to do with the delays in public works to expand the gas pipeline network. The Néstor Kirchner Gas Pipeline (GPNK) was designed to transport from Vaca Muerta, in Neuquén, about 11 million cubic meters per day (MMm3/d) of natural gas to the connection with the Neuba II in Salliqueló. Additionally, tenders were made two compressor plants of 5 MMm3/d each to extend its capacity to 21 MMm3/d.

The GPNK was ready since the beginning of August 2023 and even today it transfers more than what was enabled, about 13.3 MMm3/d. But the compressor plants Treatyen -Neuquén-, in the vicinity of the gas producing wells of the Neuquén Basin, and Salliqueló -Buenos Aires-, where it connects to the Transportadora de Gas del Sur (TGS) network, They should have been completed during the spring of last year.

However, the problems with imports of inputs and the shortage of foreign currency enabled through the Import System of the Argentine Republic (SIRA) during the period of the previous government, added to the stand in public works which determined the current one, significantly delayed the completion of these plants.

As reported by the Chief of Staff, Nicolás Posse, to Congress, The works are expected to conclude on June 29. However, sources from the energy sector assure that theTrayén plant, run by the construction company Sacde (from Damián and Marcelo’s family Mindlin) would be ready in the first days of next month, while that of Salliqueló (in charge of Esucoby businessman Carlos Wagnerand Contreras Brothers) will be delayed even further.

The public company Energía Argentina (Enarsa) was on the verge of terminating the contract of Esuco and Contreras Hermanos due to the slow progress they had shown until September. However, he left it standing, contrary to the Public Works Law, which forces the State to prioritize the most economical bidders, even though the technical proposal and operational capacity of the construction companies is not the most appropriate, in the opinion of the technicians. who know the works.

The Government expected these plants to be operational by this winter. But the delay in payments to companies slowed its progress. According to industry sources told La Nación and the specialized site econojournal, the State owed the construction companies about 40 million dollars. Currently, the private sector affirms, there are no longer delays in payments for construction certificates.

Supply planning, in charge of the Secretary of Energymay have determined during the summer to hire a regasification ship for Bahía Blanca, which provides about 13 MMm3/d of natural gas in the winter, as backup for the system. But The Government decided not to spend anything less than 100 million dollars (plus the cost of ships with liquefied gas) to have this operational backup, a decision that, with Monday’s newspaper and the anticipated cold, is now very expensive.

The gas shortage is now covered by imports of liquid fuels (gasoil and fuel oil) for the use of thermoelectric plants at a cost of more than US$ 500 million.. With two more liquefied gas ships between May 14 and 23, only US$60 million could have been spent.

Likewise, the crisis in Brazil due to flooding in Porto Alegre cut off a potential source of hydroelectric energy imports, while the unscheduled shutdown at the Embalse nuclear power plant due to a loss of heavy water demanded more from the system this week.

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