Energy crisis could cost Argentina almost $3.9 bn this year


Buenos Aires : Argentina will have to spend some $3.87 billion this year to confront the country's energy problems, which forced Buenos Aires to ration natural gas and electricity consumption, Spanish news agency EFE has said.

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A study carried out by the ministry of economy tallies the cost of the state subsidies to alleviate the shortage of energy, including paying for the importation of fuel and the payments that must be made by Cammesa, the state-run firm that administers the country's electric power network with the associations of production firms, power transport companies and the large energy consumers.

The report, published by the Clarin newspaper, warns that the energy problems will cost in 2007 more than $3.8 billion, which is equivalent to almost 70 percent of the government's monthly tax receipts.

"Just in June, Cammesa had to make payments of $709 million for fuel oil and gas-oil imports, and for the purchase of energy from Brazil," one of the company's technicians told the newspaper.

Since the end of May, Argentina has been suffering energy problems that forced it to ration or cut back on the supply of natural gas to industry, gas stations and to Chile, as a result of the increase in demand due to the low winter temperatures and economic growth over the past few years.

In addition to rationing gas, some 4,700 industries have been obligated to save a total of 1,200 megawatts daily during the hours of greater demand.