Amid fuel shortage, Massa vows to bar oil exports from Wednesday

The Economy Minister said in a press conference that oil companies could be barred from exporting unless the supply chain returns to normal

Following several days of fuel shortages, Economy Minister and presidential candidate Sergio Massa warned oil companies that export ships will be barred from leaving the country if the supply chain doesn’t return to normal.

“If the fuel shortage is not solved by Tuesday midnight, [oil companies] won’t be able to send off a single export ship Wednesday,” he said during a press conference on Sunday noon. “The oil for Argentines comes first.” 

In a joint communiqué on Saturday, Argentine oil companies blamed the shortages on an “extraordinary level of demand” in the last couple of weeks, caused partly by the long weekend in mid-October, the October 22 elections, and the expectation of shortages.

“At some point, there were some that speculated that the electoral result would cause a devaluation, so they may have saved up [their fuel],” Massa said. “Then, there were others that speculated that the [oil price] freeze agreement was coming to an end and that there would be a 20 or 40% price increase.”

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Amid market tensions following the August 13 primaries, oil companies increased fuel prices by 12.5%.The government carried out a 22% devaluation of the peso — bringing the official dollar exchange rate to AR$350 — while the Economy Ministry created a new “price renegotiation unit” to combat the expected wave of inflation. In that context, oil companies reached an agreement with the Economy Ministry and established a price freeze until October 31.

Massa said Sunday that without those state regulations, a liter of fuel— which currently is between AR$250 and AR$360 depending on the type — would be AR$680. Without naming him, Massa suggested that that would be the case if far-right presidential candidate Javier Milei wins the November 19 run-off.

“The discussion here is if starting November 19 each Argentine will be paying AR$680 [per liter] or not. That’s the difference between two visions for the country.”

Massa claimed that the Argentine oil companies are “breaking production records” and that for them “it is much more attractive to export at international barrel price rather than selling to the Argentine market, with a regulation we established to protect the people’s wallets.”

“I love that Argentine oil companies are exporting more, bringing in dollars, but Argentines are first.”

In their joint communiqué, which included state-owned YPF as a signatory, oil companies operating in Argentina said that fuel supply would “normalize in the upcoming days.”.

The government announced it would import 10 tanker ships of fuel to avoid supply shortages. According to the Energy Secretariat, the demand has grown up to 15% compared to 2022. 

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— with information from Télam.


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