Finally, this Friday the call for public tender for the construction of the President Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline was confirmed, whose delay had caused friction between members of the government and it is even presumed that the resignation of the official in charge of the Executing Unit of the work, Antonio Pronsato , which was known in the last weekend. Agustín Gerez, president of Energía Argentina, highlighted at the time of the announcement that “the bidding process is expected to be completed during the month of August 2022, thus complying with the originally established schedules.”
In the press release in which it made the announcement of the call for tenders for the construction of the gas pipeline, Energía Argentina highlighted that “it is a strategic work for our country, which will allow the capacity of the natural gas transportation system to be increased by 25 percent and will help develop the growing production in Vaca Muerta”. The pipeline will have an extension of 563 kilometers between the Neuquén town of Treatyén and Salliqueló, in the west of the province of Buenos Aires, crossing the provinces of Río Negro and La Pampa. The project also contemplates complementary works, such as the section of the Mercedes-Cardales secondary gas pipeline, in Buenos Aires territory.
After the repercussions caused by Pronsato’s resignation, the Secretary of Energy, Darío Martínez, had assured that all the steps were being taken in the foreseen times and that this week the call for tenders would take place. Many doubted, but the secretary was able to fulfill that prediction. Precisely, one of the reasons for Pronsato’s displeasure was that the specifications were already designed but the decision to take them out on the street was delayed, with which part of the task had already been done in a timely manner.
Sources from the sector affirm that there were claims from some companies aspiring to participate so that the call contemplates the opening of participation, and that the work would not remain exclusively in the hands of the most concentrated firms.
Darío Martínez, however, reaffirmed at the beginning of this week that, after the award of the provision of the pipes (by a firm of the Techint group), “this week the specifications of the work will be available.” And he also stressed that “environmental impact studies have already been carried out in Neuquén, Río Negro and La Pampa.” Only the opinion of the province of Buenos Aires would be pending.
The Secretary of Energy acknowledged on that occasion that the war could condition the supply of some materials of which Russia was expected to be one of the suppliers. He admitted that this forced him to rethink the process, which could lead to it “not being as it was established.” Despite this, he clarified that the construction steps of the gas pipeline are being carried out and that “the idea of connecting it in July or August 2023” is being followed in its first stage and “already in the winter of 2024” the second leg.
Martínez reaffirmed in the same report in which he made the previous statements, that the gas pipeline “is the most important infrastructure work in the last 40 years” and that once it is completed “it will replace imports.” “We regret that this work was not carried out in the previous administration because it could not, was not wanted or was not known,” he said, while stressing that with its implementation there will be “more industrial parks and more possibilities for industry and work “, in addition to significant savings due to the fact that “LNG will no longer be imported at $35 per million BTU and we will generalize it at $3.50.”
He also pointed out that President Alberto Fernández’s decision to carry out the work “will change the structural matrix of the country” and “puts us on the path to not only solving the gas problem in Argentina but also to be suppliers to the entire region and, if the LNG investments are made, also of the world”. The official highlighted the “federal” meaning of the work, since it will allow “taking gas from the south to the north and solving the problem” that is generated by “the decline in production in Bolivia.”