Argentina Lowers Gas Export Restrictions Fall to Chile

Argentina lowered gas export restrictions to Chile to 4.1 million cubic meters a day (mcm/d) on June 17 from 7.3mcm/d on June 15, and could cut them further once a new resolution governing the restrictions takes effect, Chile's national energy commission (CNE) said in a statement.

Officially, Argentina has agreed to reduce gas export restrictions, particularly in the central-southern part of the country, to 1.74mcm/d from 4.2mcm/d as a result of higher production and lower demand in Argentina, the statement said. However, actual gas export restrictions are higher because of resolution 27, which prohibits Argentine gas producers from exceeding 2003 monthly export levels.

This means actual gas export restrictions to Chile fell to 4.1mcm/d on June 17 from 7.3mcm/d on June 15. In particular, Argentina lifted on June 17 some restrictions on gas exports to Chilean distributor Metrogas and to Vancouver-based methanol producer Methanex Corporation (TSX: MX).

Argentina agreed to lift a restriction of 235,000cm/d on gas exports to Metrogas, and lower restrictions to Methanex plants in southern Chile's Region XII to 1.2mcm/d from 1.7mcm/d.

Meanwhile, Argentina's government was expected to publish on Friday or Saturday (June 18-19) a new resolution to replace resolution 27, the Argentina-Chile ad hoc working group said in a joint statement on June 17.

The new resolution would then take effect 72 hours from its publication. "This new resolution, in the opinion of both countries, although it does not solve the [gas export] restrictions to Chile definitely, will produce a substantial improvement in the criteria and procedures by which the gas cuts are determined," the joint statement said.

The agreement was reached during the latest meeting of the bilateral working group on June 17. "With this meeting the first phase of this group's work is finished, which has produced positive results for both parties," the statement said.

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