Chile looks to neighbors for energy exports and grid connection

Chile is exploring an increase in energy exports to Argentina and connecting electricity grids in Argentina and Peru, as it seeks to capitalize on friendly relations to drive down prices.

Chile, which has almost no hydrocarbons of its own and an energy-intensive copper mining industry, has struggled for years with high power prices.

But a shift towards renewables and warming relations with neighboring countries is starting to take some of the pressure off.

Last year, Chile began exporting gas to Argentina for the first time in order to meet elevated winter demand, sending 361 cubic meters.

It also supplied 101 gigawatt hours of electricity.

“The company that exported electricity has already asked permission to export again and (state energy firm) ENAP is finalizing negotiations to sell gas again to Argentina,” Energy Minister Andres Rebolledo told journalists at a briefing on Thursday.

In coming weeks, Chile will suggest a program of energy swaps with Argentina, allowing for energy exports in both directions in relevant areas along the countries’ shared 5,200 kilometer (3,230 miles) border, Rebolledo said.

Argentina used to be an important supplier of gas to Chile, but cut off exports in the mid-2000s after its own supply faltered.

Chile and Peru are also looking at connecting border towns on the same electric grid, in a possible first step towards greater electricity integration, said Rebolledo.

“Today, there is a favorable political-economic context to build the bases for what could be a regional electric connection,” he said.


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