Argentina faces heating shortage amid coldest winter since 1980

Argentina faces heating shortage amid coldest winter since 1980

Argentina races to secure fuel supplies as winter rages in southern hemispherewith lower than expected temperatures that trigger demand for domestic heating.

Additional imports are a headache for the Government of President Javier Milei, that needs to accumulate dollar reserves through trade surpluses – not lose them – in order to lift the currency controls that have been strangling the economy.

Milei's spokesperson said consumer demand for natural gas has skyrocketed 55% in recent weeks, to almost 70 million cubic meters per day.. “We are making every effort to avoid” a heating shortage, Manuel Adorni told reporters Wednesday at a daily news conference. “It is the harshest winter in the last 44 years.”

In recent days, families in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, where approximately a third of Argentina's 46 million people live, have turned on the heating for longer periods of time, catching the government off guard.. It has been forced to buy more natural gas and give priority to residential users by cutting off supplies to factories and drivers who use compressed gas in their cars.

In addition to purchases of liquefied natural gas – including a rare spot shipment for immediate delivery, for which it paid above-market prices -, The Government also plans to import other fuels to supply power plants that normally run on natural gas.

The situation is a blow of reality for Argentina, which has vast gas reserves in the Vaca Muerta shale zone and aspires to become a net exporter. But the country needs to expand its transportation capacity to increase production.

Although a new shale gas pipeline was added to the network last year, The construction of compression stations that would double its capacity is delayed.