The Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline successfully completed its filling and trial period and is now fully operational and ready to transport gas from Vaca Muerta to Buenos Aires city.
This new milestone for the pipeline, the first of its kind in Argentina, represents “the start of a new era” with less imports and the creation of more local jobs, said Agustín Gerez, president of the state owned oil and energy company Energía Argentina.
The 573 kilometer-long pipeline is full with 25 million cubic meters of gas from Vaca Muerta. The process will continue now with the opening and closing of 17 valves to complete the security protocol.
After this last trial stage, public officers expect the NK pipeline to be connected to the Neuba II pipeline, one of the main infrastructures providing gas to the Buenos Aires region, and in three to four days will start transporting gas to Buenos Aires city and surrounding areas.
History of the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline
The NK gas pipeline was launched July 9 in an event with President Alberto Fernández, Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Economy Minister Sergio Massa. That day, the last valve to start the filling process was opened.
The pipeline’s path starts at the gas treatment plant in Tratayén, Neuquén, which is located at the heart of the Vaca Muerta shale oil and shale gas deposit. It then goes through the provinces of Río Negro and La Pampa, all the way to the town of Salliqueló in Buenos Aires province.
Work on the NK pipeline started in August 2022. The last of over 47,700 pipes was welded on May 12, each 12 meters long, and the filling-up process started a week later.
According to official numbers, the pipeline is set to save Argentina US$1.7 billion in gas imports for the rest of 2023. Savings will grow to US$4.2 billion for the entirety of 2024, by replacing liquefied natural gas, gas provided from Bolivia, and liquid fuel imports, while increasing the availability of gas at competitive prices for industry, businesses, and homes.
The government is also preparing to work on the reversal of the gas flow of a tranche of the North Gas Pipeline. Currently, Argentina imports gas from Bolivia. If the flow is reversed, it would be able to go from the south of Argentina to the north , supplying gas to the Argentine Northwest from the Vaca Muerta shale region, which spans the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, La Pampa, and Mendoza.
The northern pipeline project will involve building a 150-kilometer pipeline in Córdoba province that will connect the country’s northern and southern gas transport systems. It will also allow exports from northern Argentina to Chile, and to Brazil via Bolivia, thanks to existing infrastructure.