Argentina Has Colder Winter Than Antartica, Spurring Record Power Imports
By Rodrigo Orihuela - Aug 3, 2010 8:45 AM MT Email Share
Argentina is importing record amounts of energy as the coldest winter in 40 years drives up demand and causes natural-gas shortages, prompting Dow Chemical Co. and steelmaker Siderar SAIC to scale back production.
Electricity supplied from Brazil and Paraguay rose to a daily combined record of about 1,000 megawatts on July 12, while consumption peaked at 20,396 megawatts three days later, according to Buenos Aires-based energy broker Cammesa. Shipments of liquefied natural gas are set to double this year.
Dow, Siderar and aluminum maker Aluar Aluminio Argentino SAIC are among companies closing plants, cutting output or seeking alternative energy sources after temperatures in parts of Argentina fell below those of Antarctica on July 15. Rising demand is exacerbating a shortage that began six years ago as economic growth accelerated and energy investment fell. The shortage is boosting costs as companies spend more to guarantee supplies.
“The situation is getting worse, because the shortage period is growing every year,” Gerardo Rabinovich, a director at the General Mosconi Energy Institute in Buenos Aires and an adviser to the opposition Radical Party, said in a telephone interview. “When this started in 2004, it lasted for about a week, then it was two weeks and now it’s more than a month.”
In July, temperatures in Buenos Aires were, on average, 1 degree Celsius below the usual low and high of 8 and 14 degrees (46 and 57 degrees Farenheit), with temperatures plummeting to about 2 degrees Celsius on July 15.
Also on July 15, temperatures in Mendoza, the wine- producing region in western Argentina, fell as low as -8.9 degrees Celsius below the temperature registered that day in the Argentine-controlled area of the South Pole, according to a national weather institute report.
Argentina is bracing for a renewed polar front this month. On Aug. 1, almost half of the country’s 23 provinces registered temperatures below zero, while the northern city of La Quiaca on the border with Bolivia fell to minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit.) The average low predicated through Aug. 5 is 1 degree, according to the National Weather service.