Home Argentina economy Hours of Buenos Aires | Deep-sea oil targeted by Argentinian activists who call off mining

Hours of Buenos Aires | Deep-sea oil targeted by Argentinian activists who call off mining

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Environmental activists in Argentina are trying to prevent further oil exploration in the resource-rich South American country, just days after forcing a Patagonian governor to back down on silver mining.
The government has been pushing for drillers to search for oil in the Atlantic Ocean since protests last week in the coastal town of Mar del Plata that have brought climate concerns to the fore.

The large-scale rally came just after a great victory for the Argentine environmental movement. Following violent protests in Chubut province, Governor Mariano Arcioni on December 20 repealed a law that would have allowed Canada’s Pan American Silver Corp to get to work at a billion-dollar mine. Arcioni will instead call a referendum.

The turnaround in Chubut mirrored what happened in Mendoza province two years ago, when the governor responded to the protests by repealing provincial legislation passed days earlier to allow more mines.

Argentina, which is trying to develop the shale wealth in the Vaca Muerta formation, auctioned off areas for deep sea exploration in 2019. Campaigners have taken to the issue now because the government does not has only recently given environmental approval for seismic studies to the Norwegian company Equinor ASA, the State of Argentina. -managing YPF SA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

“They are trying to create the same gold rush feeling as when Vaca Muerta was discovered, calling anyone who opposes it anti-progress,” Enrique Viale, environmental activist and lawyer, said in an interview. Chevron Corp also saw strong environmental resistance when it invested in Argentine shale in 2013.

Government officials have spoken since the Mar del Plata protest, saying Argentina needs more industries to help its struggling economy. “The way is to have productive activities while taking care of the environment,” said the Minister of Productive Development, Matías Kulfas.

But Viale said exploring for more fossil fuels does not match a government proposal to pay off some of its debt with climate change policies.

Argentina’s environmental movement has been a thorn in the side of the industry for years. In addition to the victories of Chubut and Mendoza, a 2010 federal law protecting glaciers more broadly limited mining activity. Likewise, the twin dams built in Patagonia had to be reduced due to concerns about their impact on glaciers upstream.

In agriculture, the province of Tierra del Fuego last year banned the farming of salmon that flourished in neighboring Chile. And several places on Argentina’s immense agricultural belt have prevented farmers from applying the glyphosate weedkiller near urban areas.

Argentina’s most famous green cause may have ended in defeat. In 2006, after more than a year of protests, the construction of two pulp mills in neighboring Uruguay received the green light from the International Court of Justice.

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by Jonathan Gilbert, Bloomberg