Snapshots

Oil Drilling Threatens Indigenous Mapuche in Argentina

While new techniques of hydrocarbon drilling, such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in new areas are lauded by some as a solution to Argentina’s energy imports, the indigenous communities who live in areas where these resources can be found argue the activity is a threat to their communities.

Members of the Mapuche community say the Argentine government’s aggressive push to increase energy supplies by allowing oil companies to explore in their lands will cause irreversible environmental and social damage.

According to Argentina´s Energy Secretariat, close to 87 percent of Argentina’s energy is generated from fossil fuels. The government agency said that in 1988 Argentina had enough gas supplies for 36 years. But by 2009, this outlook was slashed to seven years. Oil supplies fell from 14 to nine in the same period.

Additionally, starting in 2003, when the economy was stabilizing after its financial collapse two years earlier, consumption of fossil fuels increased sharply. A report of the US Energy Information Administration said that the use of oil and oil products increased more than 37 percent between 2003 and 2010 in Argentina, while gas consumption increased 23 percent in the same period. To cover its energy needs, Argentina’s fuel imports, mainly of liquefied natural gas, gasoil and fuel oil, increased more than seven times, from US$549 million to US$4.5 billion, according to Argentina’s Economy Ministry.

In December 2010, Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales, or YPF, owned by the Spanish firm Repsol, announced it found a large shale gas reserve, in Loma de la Lata in the southern Neuquen province, and then it found an even bigger one in the same site.

Now other oil companies, including the US-based Chevron, Exxon and Apache, and the France´s Total, are exploring in Neuquen.

FULL ARTICLE Oil Drilling Threatens Indigenous Mapuche in Argentina.

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