The construction of the President Néstor Kirchner Gas Pipeline reached a major milestone today when the last of its 50,000 pipes was welded in La Pampa province. The infrastructure is scheduled to go online on June 20, once the hydraulic tests and the surface installations with their valves have been completed.
The last welding was at kilometer 232 of the pipeline’s route, in the province of La Pampa, where tranches 1 and 2 connect. The project was divided into three tranches to speed up construction.
The gas pipeline now runs from Tratayén, in Neuquén, to Salliqueló, in the south of Buenos Aires province, and could help provide the country with its first energy trade surplus in 13 years. According to official estimates, the pipeline will lead to US$2 billion of foreign currency savings in the next 6 months alone.
The event was led remotely by President Alberto Fernández, from the Quinta de Olivos presidential residence, together with Economy Minister Sergio Massa and Energy Secretary Flavia Royón, among other government officials.
“Today we are gaining energy sovereignty. Many, when we launched the project, said that it was crazy to build it at this time. Well, today it is there,” said Fernández. “Things work when we all come to agreements.”
Massa said that today was a “turning point” in the country’s energy policy and that the saving in gas imports will “allow us to have less pressure on the reserves”.
The minister also announced the call for bids to launch the so-called reversal of a tranche of the North Gas Pipeline, which was inaugurated in 1960 to transport gas from Bolivia to the Pampa region. If reversed, it would mean supplying gas to the Argentine Northwest from the Vaca Muerta shale region, which spans the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, La Pampa, and Mendoza.
This will allow the country to save an additional US$ 2 billion by substituting energy imports and lowering the cost of electricity generation.
Some US$ 2.1 billion will be saved this year and more than US$ 4.2 million from 2024 onwards by replacing liquefied natural gas and liquid fuel imports, while increasing the availability of gas at competitive prices for industry, businesses, and homes.
“It is a historic and unique moment”, said Massa.
-Buenos Aires Herald/Télam