Argentina cuts off natural gas supplies to Chile

By Xinhua

Santiago : Argentina has cut off natural gas supplies to Chile after a cold snap caused the demand for fuel to soar, the National Energy Commission (CNE) has said.

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The supplies to residential customers in the Chile capital here will not be affected if the cut is temporary, said the commission Wednesday.

The residential customer demand would be met by the gas that was still in the Gas Andes pipelines and additional pumping from Metrogas plants in central Chile, it said.

It is the third time that Argentine has cut off gas supplies this year.

"We will get nothing for our demands if they cannot even meet their internal (demand). Argentina is currently dependent on gas reaching there from Bolivia," said Eduardo Frei, who leads the upper house of Chile's legislature.

Analysts said available Argentine supplies would only meet Chile's demand for three days.

In recent weeks, Argentina has been exporting between one million and 1.8 million cubic metres of gas to Chile every day. At the end of last week, Argentina reduced supplies to Chile to half a million cubic metres.

Chile, the world's largest copper producer, receives almost all its natural gas from neighbouring Argentina.