Putin in ArgentinaSunday, July 13, 2014
Gov’t signs nuclear energy deal with Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a nuclear energy cooperation deal with Argentina yesterday on the second stop of a tour to bolster trade ties and strengthen Russia’s influence in Latin America.
Putin’s energy minister, Alexander Novak, told reporters in Buenos Aires that the Russian state atomic energy corporation, Rosatom, had made an offer to tender for the construction of two new nuclear power units in Argentina.
Novak said Rosatom could offer “comfortable” financial terms to Argentina, which has struggled to advance its nuclear energy programme and lure foreign investors deterred by a raft of punishing capital and import controls.
“Rosatom is actively working here and has already handed over its technical and commercial offer to our (Argentine) colleagues,” Novak told reporters after talks between Putin and his Argentine counterpart, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. “There will be a tender this fall. Rosatom is also ready to provide comfortable financial conditions (to Argentina).‘” Fernández de Kirchner said she hoped to strengthen relations between Argentina and Moscow and said her meeting with Putin “shows how strategic the relationship is” between the two countries. “Argentina is the leader in Latin America in creating nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” she said. Meanwhile, Putin hoped nuclear energy agreements with Argentina will help to “create a base for solid cooperation in this area.” Putin added Russia “cooperates in all commercial sectors” of the country, highlighting that the trade volume has grown 16 percent this year. “There’s a lot of potential to expand our commercial relation,” he said.
At the same time as Fernández de Kirchner met with Putin, Federal Planning Minister Julio De Vido met with head of Rosatom Sergei Kirienko to review the details of the nuclear energy cooperation deal both countries have signed. De Vido highlighted that the agreement will make it possible to deepen the cooperation in the field of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Argentina has been building nuclear-powered electricity plants to revive its nuclear programme and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels amid an energy crunch.
Krienko described the completion of the Néstor Kirchner (Atucha II) nuclear energy plant as an important accomplishment for Argentina and said that it shows the high qualification of Argentine nuclear experts, the Planning Ministry reported in a press release. At the same time, Krienko highlighted the country’s leading role in nuclear energy in Latin America.
Investment in Vaca Muerta
Even though a deal wasn’t announced, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner confirmed Russia’s interest in investing in the Vaca Muerta shale formation and announced that a Russian delegation will travel soon to the area, which holds one of the largest shale gas and oil reserves of the world.
“A Russian delegation will travel to Vaca Muerta to visit one of the largest shale gas areas of the world,” Fernández de Kirchner said. “We’re talking about Russia, one of the world’s top producers of gas and oil. But we Argentines also have our own and it seems like others have noticed.”
At the same time, De Vido said the visit of the Russian delegation to Vaca Muerta “creates a lot of expectations” regarding possible investment in the area. He described Russia’s Gazprom energy firm as “one of the most important energy firms of the world.” De Vido said “it creates a lot of satisfaction for us that they want to visit this area.”
So far, US firm Chevron is the foreign oil company that has been most active in Vaca Muerta after it sealed a shale partnership with YPF, which has the rights over 36 percent of the formation. YPF agreed to grant Chevron the rights to half of a 395-kilometre-square area in Vaca Muerta in exchange for US$1.24 billion for a joint venture that would drill 100 wells in a 20-square-kilometre area.
Fernández de Kirchner issued a decree establishing that companies with investment plans of at least US$1 billion in five years would be able to export 20 percent of their production after the fifth year and have free access to those dollars, meaning they could be sent to their headquarters abroad.
Herald with Reuters