Argentina gas exports almost double in July

Bnamericas Published: Monday, August 29, 2022
Argentina gas exports almost double in July

Exports of Argentine gas climbed 85% year-on-year in July, driven by producers targeting the Chilean market.

Favorable prices and domestic transport restrictions – along with a push to build firm, year-round exports to Chile – are whetting the appetite of Argentine upstream firms, chiefly those operating in the Vaca Muerta formation. 

Companies piped 3.90Mm3/d (million cubic meters per day) in July, with Chilean dispatches climbing 100% to 3.62Mm3/d, offsetting a 7% drop in exports to Uruguay to 280,000m3/d. Brazil received no Argentine gas in July, according to data from gas industry regulator Enargas.

Gas exports typically fall over Argentina’s cooler period of October-April, as output is prioritized for domestic consumption. Dispatches, for example, were 9.9Mm3/d in summer month December. 

Overall gas production in Argentina was 139Mm3/d in June, up 9.6% year-on-year, according to data from think tank the General Mosconi energy institute.


Ducts within the transport system

The group of seven export pipelines that are part of the national transport system accounted for the bulk of gas exports in July, according to Enargas. 

The Argentina-Chile pipeline GasAndes is the main export duct, transporting 3.25Mm3/d in July, up 80% year-on-year.  

Nameplate capacity of GasAndes – which carries Vaca Muerta gas to Santiago Metropolitan region – is 10.5Mm3/d. Actual capacity is around 5Mm3/d in winter and 9Mm3/d in summer on account of available capacity of feeder infrastructure operated by TGN. Local hydrocarbons firm CGC, a 43% stakeholder in GasAndes, is mulling a project to install a compression plant, which would increase nameplate capacity to 17Mm3/d.

The only other ducts registering exports in July were the two linking Argentina with Uruguay: PetroUruguay (10,000m3/d, down 48% year-on-year) and Cruz del Sur (270,000m3/d, down 5%).

The others comprise two pipelines running between the country’s south and Chilean methanol producer Methanex, along with the TGM duct, which carries gas to a Brazilian thermoelectric plant. 

Ducts outside the transport system

Argentina has five pipelines outside the transport system, together accounting for 370,000m3/d in July, up from zero a year earlier.

All exports corresponded to the 5.2Mm3/d Gasoducto del Pacífico, which runs between Neuquén basin gas field Loma La Lata and Chilean region Biobío. This pipeline transports gas under a 300,000m3/d firm export agreement with Chile.

The others comprise three carrying Argentine gas to Methanex as well as the Atacama duct, running between Argentine province Salta and northern Chile.


Investment in gas pipeline infrastructure work, particularly flow reversal along TGN north-south duct Gasoducto Norte, would support dispatch of Vaca Muerta gas to Argentina’s north, which is facing the dual problems of dwindling local hydrocarbons production and shrinking reserves in supplier Bolivia. Flow reversal would also open the doors for exports of Vaca Muerta gas to Chile’s north and potentially exports to Brazil via Bolivia. 

During a conference last week, CGC gas, power and midstream commercial manager Victoria Sabbioni said TGN was mulling a project to install reverse flow capacity of up to 19Mm3/d, as well as carrying out feeder infrastructure work to support any eventual GasAndes capacity expansion.

Gasoducto Norte flow-reversal work is included in the first and second phases of the Vaca Muerta pipeline megaproject. Associated investment is US$249mn, according to a November 2021 plan. So far, associated tenders have been for the main duct, the Mercedes-Cardales link and compression stations. 

Gasoducto Norte has injection capacity of 28.5Mm3/d, according to Enargas’ 2020 annual report. That year, 18.7Mm3/d was injected.  

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