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Brazil, Argentina Governments step up studies on cross-border pipelines, power lines

Brazil, Jan 08, 2004 (BNamericas.com via COMTEX) The respective governments of Brazil and Argentina have created two bi-national workgroups to study the exchange of excess electricity between the countries and the conclusion of the Uruguaina-Porto Alegre pipeline, Brazil's mines and energy ministry said in a statement.

The announcement came after the second meeting of the bilateral energy committee since it was created in 2003. The meetings are headed by Brazil's mines and energy minister Dilma Rousseff and Argentina's energy secretary Daniel Cameron.

The committee aims to identify bilateral energy projects that Brazil and Argentina can propose and support within meetings of the Regional Infrastructure Integration of South American (IIRSA) group, a multinational organization created in 2000 and coordinated by the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), the Inter-American Development Banks (IDB) and the Fonplata Development Bank.

"The committee concluded that energy projects weren't getting enough prominence within IIRSA," a spokesperson from Brazil's mines and energy ministry told BNamericas.

Support for projects within IIRSA is considered an important step to help obtain financing for the projects.

The first workgroup aims to produce a study within 60 days on the feasibility of regular and reciprocal power exchanges between Argentina and Brazil. Currently, the Endesa Spain-headed Cien consortium makes cross-border power sales. The idea now under consideration is to explore the possibility of one country giving the other surplus power at one particular moment and then receiving the same amount at a later date, the spokesperson explained.

Like many neighbors, the two countries have complementary power demand seasons: Brazilian demand peaks November through January while in Argentina the peak is June through August.

The second workgroup would carry out feasibility studies for the conclusion of the 615km gas pipeline link from border city Uruguaiana to Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul state capital Porto Alegre.

The TSB consortium of Brazil's Petrobras and Ipiranga, Spain's Repsol-YPF, France's TotalFinaElf, and Argentina's Techint is the likely constructor of the US$500mn pipeline, which would transport 4.4 million cubic meters a day (mcm/d) of gas to Porto Alegre, favoring the development of power generation plants.

The two countries also agreed to restart studies for the construction of the Garabi hydro project on the Uruguay river which marks the border. The project has been in the planning stage for decades. Brazil's newly created research group, the Energy Research Company (EPE) will carry out the latest studies, Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico reported.

Brazil also pledged to recognize the regional importance of two Argentine projects in upcoming IIRSA meetings: the interconnection of Argentina's northeastern (NEA) and northwestern (NOA) power grids, and a gas pipeline from Argentina to Bolivia and ultimately to the Bolivia-Brazil pipeline.

The NEA-NOA interconnection would allow for the creation of a transmission corridor from northern Chile to southern Brazil.


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