Take physic, pomp

Chile vs. Argentina: two ways of tackling an energy crisis

“Yes, we’re having a problem. The rains haven’t come, largely due to the ‘La Niña’ effect. Hydro reservoirs are low and we can’t rely on all the generation we’d like from them at the moment. We’re going to have to up generation from thermal plants by around 19% to cover the shortfall from the hydro plants until at least the end of June, and then hopefully the rains will arrive and ease the problem.

” We’ve had a slice of really bad timing at one of our major thermal plants, too. The Nehuenco I station is offline until July at least, which is stretching our installed capacity to the limit. If we get another outage, we’re in trouble, but we are doing our best.

“We’ve told our population that things are tight, and we have whole range of measures in place to try and help out. We’ve cut voltages by 10%, handed out free powersaving lightbulbs by the million, and we’ve also tried to lead by example in government offices and building, shutting down all non-essential machinery.

But things further down the line look better. We’re about to open our new LPG terminal that means we don’t have to rely on Argentina any more for gas supply. We’re also opening new thermal and hydro plants soon that will add a big chunk to installed capacity and head off any problems in the future.”

“There’s no problem! Whatever makes you think that? Look, we always have a bit of a tight squeeze this time of year, so you really should be used to it by now.

“We have plenty of oil and gas left to discover, you know…it’s not like we’re about to run out or anything…..and it’s not our fault that we haven’t developed the gas and oil fields in our own country, either. That was because of the financial crisis, you know.

“We’re about to go into harvest season, and if that means we have to tighten supply a bit in Buenos Aires to make sure the farmers get enough fuel for the machines…well…it’s only for a couple of weeks anyway!

“As for the winter, just because there were energy shortages last year, it doesn’t mean it will happen again this year, you know. You people are always looking for any old way to have a dig at the government. You should be happy about the shortages, because it means our industry is growing so fast! But you never hear that, do you? All you hear is about a ‘lack of planning’ or fuel being ‘sold abroad’ because the oil companies refuse to ‘sell at a loss to locals’…never looking on the bright side.

“As for planning ahead, didn’t you read the papers last week? We’re going to start thinking about a plan to build a nuclear station with Brazil! So there! That’ll be ready by 2015 no problem, so after then you’ll have nothing left to moan about.”


Reports from Buenos Aires tonight talk about 10 car queues at most service stations, and if you want to buy fuel it is cash or debit card only (no credit cards). And amazingly, all stations are out of the regular fuel (known there as ‘super’) and will only offer you the high-end fuels with extra this and that (YPF’s variety is called ‘Fangio XXI’, named after the famous local formula one driver).
The government is up in arms, and vows to crack down on the oil companies for having the temerity to try and sell things at a profit instead of acting like charities. Meanwhile, Argentina is now one of the world’s top biofuels exporters….funny old world, innit?

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