Argentina relaunches natural gas exports to Chile

SANTIAGO – Argentina has restarted exporting natural gas to Chile after more than a decade, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said on Tuesday.

The country’s rising unconventional hydrocarbons output and plans to increase production by a further 5-7% per year through 2022 have fuelled Argentina’s ambitions to return to being a net gas exporter, Reuters reported.

The unconventional gas is being piped from Argentina’s oil- and gas-rich Vaca Muerta shale field in the Neuquen basin, then sent over the Andes mountain range to Chile’s southern province of Biobio.

“We are working enthusiastically with [Argentine] President Mauricio Macri to integrate our energy supply,” Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said, cited by the agency.

The exports mark a turning point in energy trade in the region. Argentina, which sits atop the world’s No. 2 shale gas reserves, was once a major supplier of natural gas to Chile, but triggered a diplomatic crisis in the mid-2000s by cutting off shipments when its own supplies ran low.