March 20, 2019 / 11:26 PM / a month ago

Argentina authorizes new gas exports to Chile

BUENOS AIRES, March 20 (Reuters) - Argentina’s energy secretariat said on Wednesday it authorized oil companies YPF and Total to make new gas exports to neighboring Chile.

The exports will take place in an eight-month period of lower local demand in Argentina. The government authorized state-controlled oil company YPF SA to send 500,000 cubic meters per day, and French company Total SA to send 1.5 million cubic meters per day, the secretariat said in a statement.

The announcement came after a meeting between Argentine Energy Secretary Gustavo Lopetegui and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in Buenos Aires.

In October of last year, Argentina began exporting natural gas to Chile after a 12-year interlude. Argentina, which sits atop the world’s No. 2 shale gas reserves, was once a major supplier of natural gas to Chile, but triggered a diplomatic crisis in the mid-2000s by cutting off shipments when its own supplies ran low.

“Increasing the volumes exported to Chile is the first step. Our great challenge is to continue increasing production to supply the domestic market and be able to export gas all through the year,” Lopetegui said in the statement.

Representatives from YPF and Total did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Argentina exported an average of 5 million cubic meters per day during the most recent summer months when local demand is lower. (Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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