The Neuquén basin is the source for all four Argentina-Chile pipelines.
The GasAndes pipeline extends 288 miles from Neuquén to central Chile,
near Santiago. The GasAndes pipeline has been in operation since 1997 and
is majority owned and operated by TotalFinaElf. There are plans to expand
the pipelines throughput capacity significantly to reach 494 million cubic
feet per day (Mmcf/d) and to extend it to the city of Rancagua.
The Gasoducto del Pacifico opened in November 1999, transporting 140 Mmcf/d
over 330 miles to the Bio Bio region in southern Chile. Gasoducto del Pacifico
is owned by a consortium of TotalFinaElf (operator), El Paso International,
Chile's Gasco, ENAP, and Repsol-YPF. The pipeline services various industrial
consumers. Presently, there is not enough demand to satisfy the pipeline capacity.
The consortium reportedly is searching for new clients for the pipeline's
The other two Argentine-Chilean pipelines run parallel to each other and supply
a market that does not fully utilize the pipelines' capacities. The GasAtacama
pipeline, with a 300-Mmcf/d capacity, came onstream in July 1999 and is co-owned
by U.S.-based CMS and Endesa. GasAtacama's main customer is the Nopel power
plant of the same owners. The NorAndino pipeline has a capacity of just over
280 Mmcf/d and came onstream in November 1999. It is owned by Belgium's Tractabel
and U.S.-based Southern Company and supplies two power plants. A landslide
in January 2002 ruptured the NorAndino, causing temporary power outages in
Argentina and Chile. Emergency natural gas supplies were transported to Chile
via the parallel GasAtacama line, prompting the operators to propose a spur
line be built to connect the two pipelines to be used in emergencies.
One Argentina-Brazil pipeline has come onstream. The 273-mile, $250 million,
423-Mmcf/d pipeline connects Paraná, Argentina, to Uruguaiana, Brazil.
It provides gas to a $350-million, 500-megawatt (MW) AES power plant in Uruguaiana.
Service began in early July 2000. Plans to extend the pipeline to Porto Alegre,
Brazil, have been severely delayed and expected completion of the project
has been pushed back from late 2002, to the second half of 2004.
Additional Argentina-Brazil pipelines are in various stages of the planning
process, although recent natural gas discoveries in Bolivia and potential
Brazilian discoveries could prevent development of the pipeline projects.
These potential Argentina-Brazil pipelines include the Cruz del Sur, Trans-Iguacu,
and Mercosur pipelines. The Cruz del Sur would extend to Brazil an Argentine-Uruguayan
pipeline that currently is under construction (construction began in March
2001). The pipeline is reportedly almost complete, but has encountered delays
as Uruguay has been unable to convert its power generators to natural gas,
thus making the initial deliveries infeasible. The Trans-Iguacu pipeline would
cross from northern Argentina's Noroeste basin into southern Brazil. The Mercosur
pipeline would tap northwestern Argentina's Neuquén basin to Curitiba,
Brazil, and could extend to Sao Paulo.
There is one gas import pipeline into Argentina. Bolivia sold gas to Argentina
through the Yacimientos-Bolivian Gulf (Yabog) pipeline until 1999, when the
contract expired. It remains unclear if or how the pipeline's spare capacity
might be used.