El diario británico reconoce que Argentina podrá terminar con el déficit energético a partir de las inversiones de importantes compañías como Dow Chemical y Wintershall. Además, el periódico sostiene que los inversores podrían aportar más de 3.350 millones de dólares en los próximos 10 años.
It’s not all grim news in Argentina’s energy sector, where entrenched problems have caused fuel imports to double over the last year, sapping the country’s precious foreign exchange reserves.
Despite serious reservations about Argentina among many foreign investors, both Germany’s Wintershall and the local subsidiary of the US’s Dow Chemical have announced investments this week to explore possibilities in the giant shale formation, Vaca Muerta.
Wintershall, which is Germany’s largest oil and gas producer and a wholly-owned subsidiary of BASF, has announced that it will invest an initial $150m. If all goes well, investments could rise to as much as $3.35bn over the next ten years in its project in Vaca Muerta, which by some estimates holds the world’s second-largest shale gas reserves.
Some may think this a bold move in a country that most foreign investors are shying away from, at least until the end of the mandate in 2015 of the country’s controversial president, Cristina Fernández. But it is not the first time BASF has taken risks in emerging markets, after announcing a €10bn plan aimed at doubling sales in the Asia-Pacific region in June.
As well as Wintershall, Dow Argentina also signed a deal on Tuesday with Argentina’s state controlled energy company YPF to invest $120m in Vaca Muerta over the next year.
Still, the investments of Wintershall and Dow are a fraction of the size of the deal that YPF signed in July with Chevron, which became the company’s first international partner since the expropriation of Repsol’s 51 per cent stake last year. Chevron committed to making initial investments of $1.24bn, which could in theory rise more than tenfold.
But if more companies follow their lead, Argentina could start to reverse its increasingly unsustainable energy import bill, which last month doubled to $1.55bn, compared to $761m in August 2012.
Similarly, last week YPF started to test the waters of the international capital markets by offering to sell $150m of debt – admittedly a drop in the ocean compared to its ambitious $37.2bn investment plan in Vaca Muerta.
Much more foreign participation will be required, and much more money will need to be borrowed if Argentina wants to pull of its own shale revolution. But it’s a start.