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Chile starts up second stage of gas exports to Argentina


Chile has begun exporting natural gas to Argentina along a second pipeline over the Andes Mountains, state energy company Enap said Friday, tripling the flow of gas to its neighbor after the initial start of exports via a separate pipeline last month.

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The 450 kilometer-long GasAndes pipeline will export 3 million cubic meters/day of gas from central Chile to western Argentina, using gas supplied by Enap, power company Endesa Chile and gas distributor Metrogas.

The three companies receive the fuel under long-term contract with BG Group via the Quintero LNG import terminal.

The exports to Argentina will continue throughout the southern hemisphere winter, June to September.

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Last month, France's Engie began exports of 1.5 million cu m/d of gas from its Mejillones LNG import terminal in northern Chile to northwest Argentina via its NorAndino pipeline.

These exports are also expected to continue through the winter. Engie owns 63% of the terminal, with Chile's state copper company Codelco holding the balance.

Enap said that the latest exports from central Chile could be increased by 1 million cu m/d at Argentina's request if gas were available, which would boost overall exports to 5.5 million cu m/d.

The two countries are linked by seven pipelines built in the 1990s to transport gas from Argentina to Chile.

At that time, Chile hoped cheap and plentiful Argentinean gas, up to 22 million cu m/d, would wean it off drought-prone hydroelectric dams.

However, from 2004, Argentina began limiting supplies to a trickle to cover its own domestic shortages.

--Tom Azzopardi,
--Edited by Lisa Miller,