Argentina - Energy and power

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Despite a shortage of energy resources, production of electric power has steadily increased since 1958, after more than a decade of neglect. In 2000, electrical energy production totaled 82.8 billion kWh (52% thermal, 41% hydropower, and 7% nuclear). In the same year, consumption of electricity was 80.8 billion kWh. Installed generating capacity was 25.9 million kW in 2001. The government places great emphasis on the development of hydroelectric projects and nuclear power, even though installed capacity exceeds projected demand. The final stage of the Yaciretá-Aripe project on the Paraná River, with an installed capacity of 3,200 MW, was completed in 1998.

In 1974, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to install a nuclear-powered electric generating plant. (As of 2002, the only other South American country to use nuclear power was Brazil.) The Atucha power station in Buenos Aires Province has a capacity of 357 MW; Embalse (648 MW) in Córdoba Province started up in 1983. Construction of a second 692-MW reactor at Atucha began in 1980, but was still nearing completion as of 2002.

The modern petroleum industry dates from 1907; after 1940, it became necessary to supplement domestic production with large-scale imports of foreign fuels. In 1958, ownership of all crude oil and natural gas was taken over by the state, and petroleum was then placed under the control of the state oil corporation, Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF). Production of crude oil fell from 25.6 million tons in 1982 to 22.3 million tons in 1987 but rose to 37.7 million tons in 1995. Production in 1998 totaled 847,000 barrels per day; it dropped to an estimated 818,000 barrels per day in 2002. In 1978, foreign-owned companies were allowed to drill for oil, after decades of policy changes on the role of foreign companies. In August 1985, the Alfonsín government announced more liberal rules on foreign-company participation; in 1987, YPF's influence was reduced. In July 1993, Argentina privatized YPF via the largest initial stock offering on the New York stock exchange (more than us$3 billion). Large deposits have been found in the San Jorge Gulf near Comodoro Rivadavia. In recent years though, production rates have exceeded the rate at which depleted reserves have been replaced by new discoveries. Proven reserves as of 1 January 2002 were estimated at 2.9 billion barrels.

In conjunction with petroleum extraction, the significant natural gas industry, which is completely run by the private sector, has rapidly expanded. As of 2002 Argentina had the third-largest proven natural gas reserves in South America, exceeded only by Venezuela and Mexico. Production in 2002 was an estimated 37.4 billion cu m (1.3 trillion cu ft), compared with 5.3 billion cu m (187 billion cu ft) in 1969 and 9.8 billion cu m (356 billion cu ft) in 1982. At the start of 2002, known reserves were estimated at 779 billion cu m (27.5 trillion cu ft). Argentina has a network of over 9,900 km (6,150 mi) of gas pipelines. Since 1997 Argentina has exported natural gas to Chile, which is its major gas export customer.

A major coal deposit in Santa Cruz Province is estimated to contain 552 million tons of coal, nearly 80% of the nation's total. Production as a whole was reported at 330,000 tons in 2002, down from 505,000 tons in 1988.

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