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Buenos Aires — Argentina's power sector cut its consumption of coal and fuel oil in April, as it put a preference on diesel and natural gas, an industry report showed Friday.

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Thermal power plants, which supply around 65% of the country's electricity, consumed 168 mt/d of fuel oil in April, down 95.4% from 3,660 mt/d in the year-ago period, the "General Mosconi" Argentina Institute of Energy said in a monthly report on the energy sector.

Coal consumption tumbled 65% to 1,086 mt/d from 3,101 mt/d over the same period, the think tank said.

Instead, the power plants ramped up consumption of diesel 30.7% to 4,564 b/d in April from 3,562 b/d in April 2017, and increased gas consumption 12.2% to 55.3 million cu m/d from 49.3 million cu m/d over the same period, it said.

The increases came as oil and gas consumption show signs of recovering after years of decline, led by output from Vaca Muerta and other huge unconventional plays. Oil production rose 7.2% year on year to 486,305 b/d from 453,741 b/d, while gas rose 4.8% year on year to 129.2 million cu m/d in April from 123.3 million cu m/d, according to the latest Energy Ministry data.

The government wants to gradually reduce the power sector's use of diesel and fuel oil, using gas as a replacement. The bet is that gas production will reach a target between 174 million cu m/d and 200 million cu m/d in 2030, according to the Energy Ministry.

--Charles Newbery,
--Edited by Valarie Jackson,