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Oil, gas and energy crisis in Argentina (2003-2007): some contributions from ecological Marxism

Oil, gas and energy crisis in Argentina (2003-2007): some contributions from ecological Marxism


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By Ignacio Sabbatella

Ecological Marxism proposes to explore the relationships between economy and nature, more precisely, to analyze the relationship between capitalism as a self-expanding system and nature, inherently not self-expanding. In short, the capital-nature relation supposes a second contradiction that is added to the antagonistic capital-labor relation recognized by traditional Marxism.


1. Introduction

Source of greed, war, power and money [2] for many and a prime suspect of climate change for others, oil, along with its partner, gas, plays a fundamental role in the world capitalist system. During 2008, the global economy trembled to the rhythm of the steep rise in the international price of a barrel of oil, which passed 100 dollars and reached a record high of 147 dollars in July. In the second part of the year, the onset of the recession caused its price to fall sharply and currently it remains close to $ 80 [3].

Among the conjunctural factors that explain the rise in international prices, we should consider the weakness of the dollar, together with the strong presence of speculative factors, and the rapid growth in demand from emerging powers, such as China and India. However, there is an underlying factor, rooted in the gears of the machinery of capitalist production and reproduction: the uncertainty generated by future supply. The need to appropriate safe sources of oil led the US during the George W. Bush administration to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, under the pretext of the terrorist threat after the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001, and to set its sights on other countries with abundant reserves, such as Venezuela.

So far, the economic and political dimensions of oil and gas are briefly exposed. But we are also interested in incorporating the ecological factor to understand these elements in their entirety. The history of capital, marked by contradictions, in this field cannot escape its own logic either. From the traditional perspective of Marxism, the antagonistic relationship between capital-labor became the engine not only of the struggle but also of the theoretical-intellectual development. Here we propose, instead, to adopt a broader view from the postulates of ecological Marxism to clarify the second fundamental contradiction: the capital-nature relationship. In this way, we will be able to conceptualize the physical-natural limits that precede the expansive logic of capital and how it undermines its own conditions of production and generates by itself a tendency towards the crisis of underproduction.

In this paper we propose an approach towards the privatization experience of hydrocarbons in Argentina from this perspective. We are motivated to add some contributions to elucidate the logic of appropriation of capital and the role of the State in oil and gas activity. We choose as the period of analysis the presidency of Néstor Kirchner, between 2003 and 2007, given that it was framed in the so-called “energy crisis”.

So we will begin our presentation by analyzing empirically and theoretically the importance of fossil fuels in the development and expansion of capitalism on a planetary scale. Then, we will focus on the analysis of the Argentine energy crisis based on the incidence of oil and gas, posing a scenario where the State, capital and nature are interrelated. From there, we will make a first approach to the concept of underproduction crisis.

2. Oil and gas: vital energy of the capitalist machinery

Hydrocarbons are non-renewable natural assets, that is, their world stocks are constant. These are crude oil, natural gas and mineral coal, although in this paper we will be specifically interested in the first two. They come from the fossil remains of marine animals and plants after several geological eras of transformations due to the action of certain temperatures, pressure and lack of oxygen. While technical advances may increase usable quantities or allow new discoveries, existing quantities are finite (Mansilla, 2007).

Crude oil and natural gas belong to the primary energy sources since they are obtained from nature and have not undergone any process in transformation centers (De Dicco, 2006). Its use is vital as fuel for transport, industry and private homes, as well as electricity generation, fertilizers for agricultural production, plastics production and street asphalt. As shown in Figure Nº 1, almost 80% of the primary energy matrix worldwide depends on hydrocarbons. Oil appears in a comfortable first place with 35%.

Figure No. 1


Source: IEA Statistics - Energy Balances

The history of humanity in the last 150 years has been marked by fire by oil. The geologist Colin Campbell states in the book by Seifert and Werner (2008) that oil stimulated the population explosion since 1850 and made globalization possible thanks to the lowering of transport prices. According to Elmar Altvater (2005), oil is fundamental as a source of energy for capitalist economic development for some reasons: it makes capitalism independent of space and time since it is transportable and storable, in addition to being independent of natural cycles; it makes possible, unlike renewable energies, the concentration of economic, political and military powers.

Although gas appears in third place, behind coal, we must highlight the growing importance it is acquiring in terms of economic and environmental criteria. At the 24th World Gas Conference, which took place in Buenos Aires in October this year, Repsol YPF President Antonio Brufau predicted that global gas demand will grow by 22% in the next 25 years. More grandly, the director of the Russian state Gazprom, Alexéi Miller, estimated that "the 21st century is going to be the century of natural gas." In addition, a specialist assured that "adequate policies could boost gas from the current 21 percent share in the world matrix to 28 percent by 2030" (La Nación y Página 12, October 7, 2009)

The importance of hydrocarbons in the production and reproduction of capitalism leads us to wonder what kind of component they represent for capital and in what ways have these natural assets been appropriated. As we said, they are non-renewable natural goods while capitalist accumulation is incessant and unlimited. Therefore, something contradictory appears to us.

Ecological Marxism proposes to explore the relationships between economy and nature, more precisely, to analyze the relationship between capitalism as a self-expanding system and nature, inherently not self-expanding. The self-valorization of capital, on an increasingly enlarged scale of production and reproduction, does not recognize external limits, so that "the contradiction between a limited nature coexisting with unlimited needs and the unlimited accumulation of capital is intrinsic to capitalism" ( Altvater, 2009: 8). In short, the capital-nature relation supposes a second contradiction that is added to the antagonistic capital-labor relation recognized by traditional Marxism.

If man appropriates nature through predominant values ​​and identities at the social and historical level (Galafassi, 1998), in the capitalist mode of production, the predominant form in the first instance is private appropriation and commodification. Nature is fetishized by the work and grace of capital. Then, capital seeks to extend its dominion over the natural environment and intensify its exploitation. We have called the extension and intensification of exploitation the real subsumption of nature to capital (Sabbatella, 2008). The processes of concentration and centralization of the expanded reproduction of capital not only consolidate an increasingly pronounced restriction on access to natural assets but also an overexploitation of them. For David Harvey (2004), extended reproduction, especially in situations of overproduction crises, is complemented by mechanisms of accumulation by dispossession [4].

Natural goods such as hydrocarbons, minerals, forests and water are not products of labor. They have no value, they are not merchandise. However, given the private appropriation and the mercantilist logic of capital, they are thrown onto the market with a price. The importance of these goods lies in the fact that they are not simply raw materials, means of production or means of life, but rather that they function as "conditions of production" of capital: everything that makes up the framework of capitalist production and that is not produced as a merchandise although it is treated as if it were. This concept is recovered by James O'Connor (2001) from Marx's Grundrisse and resembles what Polanyi (1989) called “fictitious goods” [5]. The production conditions are made up of three parts: the external or environmental conditions (natural capital), those natural assets that intervene in constant and variable capital, among which are oil and gas; personal conditions (human capital), that is, the workforce; and general communal conditions (community capital), infrastructure and urban space.

The provision of natural goods, as well as the rest of the production conditions, is limited: they are not available in the quantity, time and place required by capital. Therefore, the State appears as a mediator between capital and nature, regulating access to them. Until the mid-1970s, nation states valued natural assets as geopolitically strategic resources and kept them under state ownership or exercised rigorous control over them (Giarracca, 2006). But this model underwent a process of transformation based on the neoliberal policies of deregulation and liberalization of natural goods markets and the privatization of public companies that administered them. The State transferred key functions to the market in regulating the natural conditions of production.

The allocation of such conditions by the market is inherently unplanned and governed by profit-making, competition, and overexploitation of nature. Natural assets adopt an economic valuation, being reduced to a mere commercial resource or commodity. Capital is not moved by their preservation and protection, but rather the thirst for money moves it to quickly monetize them. Thus, in the absence of state regulations, capital squeezes the natural conditions of production to its exhaustion, generating scarcity and increasing costs for capital itself. One more form of crisis is opening up for capital: supply problems or the rise in prices of raw materials and energy can create a problem of production of surplus value. To the crises of overproduction, ecological Marxism adds the crisis of underproduction as an effect of the increasing costs of reproduction of the natural conditions of production [6].

A complete example of this is oil, given that in the last three decades the fall in reserves (what specialists call peak oil), the absence of large discoveries and the increase in its price on world markets have been exposed. For all that we have exposed, the supply and cost problems of fossil fuels are presented as an external limit for capitalist accumulation.

3. The role of oil and gas in the Argentine energy crisis and its impacts

As shown in Figure 2, in Argentina dependence on oil and gas is even greater than in the world energy matrix since they satisfy 88% of the national energy demand. In addition, the electricity supply is largely explained by thermal power plants that use fossil fuels. According to Bernal, De Dicco and Freda (2008), net electricity generation in 2007 corresponded to 58% thermal, 36% hydroelectric and 6% nuclear. Likewise, the fuels that the power plants consumed during that year were 79% natural gas, 13% fuel oil, and diesel and mineral coal, both with 4%. With the data listed, we can safely say that oil and gas are constituted in our country in natural conditions of capital production that are difficult to replace.

Figure 2


Source: Ministry of Energy

Yacimiento Petroliferos Fiscales (YPF) had become one of the most important public companies in the country since its creation in 1922, intervening in all stages of exploitation (exploration, extraction, refining, distribution, marketing, etc.) and establishing state sovereignty on those goods, despite the fact that private oil companies continued to participate in the local market. Starting in the 1990s, the imposition of the neoliberal model led to the liberalization and deregulation of the hydrocarbon sector. With the privatization of YPF and Gas del Estado, the government of Carlos Menem placed all the stages of the exploitation of hydrocarbon assets in the hands of the private sector. The State not only stopped intervening in this strategic sector of the national economy, but also detached itself from the control and regulation functions of private management (Cervo, 2001; Calcagno and Calcagno, 2001; Mansilla, 2007).

The Repsol company acquired almost all the shares of YPF S.A. in 1999 and became the main operator in the country. Other transnational companies that gained ground were Pan American Energy (an association of BP and Bridas), Total, Chevron and Petrobras. Capitalist appropriation established a rapid process of commodification of oil and gas. Briefly, we can say that the transnationals were oriented to maximizing extraction to the detriment of the useful life of the fields and to exports over supplying the domestic market. No less than 11 new gas pipelines were installed with the aim of selling to Chile, through 7 gas pipelines, and Brazil and Uruguay, with 2 gas pipelines each (Galé, 2005: 259). At the same time, there is a progressive decline in the drilling of exploration wells (Mansilla, 2007; De Dicco, 2006).

It is interesting to analyze the period of the Néstor Kirchner government (March 2003 - December 2007) since certain aspects of the relationship between the State and companies were modified. In principle, it seems that the State is taking up an important role in the hydrocarbon sector, fundamentally with the creation of a new state company, Enarsa. Nor will we be able to analyze here with due detail the functions that Enarsa assumed. Likewise, we list some: granting of concessions at sea and association with private companies; execution of international agreements signed with Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries; and fuel import operations. We can anticipate that it has not intervened in the energy market as a regulator of prices and conditions of the activity, nor has it recovered deposits with illegal contracts and lacking investment.


In the state role, we also highlight a progressive increase in withholdings [7] with the triple objective of decoupling domestic prices from international ones, discouraging exports and appropriating a greater portion of oil and gas income for the State.

However, in 2006 two laws were approved that are far from strengthening the state role: Promotional regimes for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons (Law 26,154 / 2006) and Administration of the provinces on the hydrocarbon deposits of their territories, and subsoil of the territorial sea (Law 26.197 / 2006). The first stipulated a series of tax benefits to encourage exploration by private companies. For its part, the "provincialization" of hydrocarbons is an unprecedented case in the world, although foreseen in the constitutional reform of 1994. The provinces come to have control over the hydrocarbons that lie in their subsoil within the framework of a supposed federalization of economic and energy policy. But it is clear that it further weakens the state's capacity to regulate, control and plan the use and protection of oil and gas.

Likewise, Kirchner's mandate was strongly conditioned by the energy crisis, as the problems in the supply of electricity, fuel and gas have been called by the media. The energy crisis becomes evident when energy demand progressively equates the energy supply capacity at the national level. The analysis of its causes should be the subject of another work; but we can point out that it generated a series of controversies and cross-questioning between the government and companies: the government blamed the companies for the lack of investment in exploration, transportation, refining, etc; from the companies, it was argued that the main cause was the freezing of domestic prices [8].

According to Gustavo Bianchi, between February and May 2004 the first major gas and electricity cuts were registered. In addition, that year began the interruptions of gas supply to Chile, a country that had changed its energy matrix as a result of the guarantee of provision that Argentina had made in the 90s through a group of new trans-cordilleran gas pipelines (Magazine El Investor, May 2007).

In mid-2007, the power supply ranged from deficiencies to total outages. National government officials publicly acknowledged the crisis in June and July, ordering different measures to alleviate it, while spontaneous protests from home users took place. In this context, the government chose to prioritize the supply to households to the detriment of the consumption of certain industrial sectors and exports, albeit gradually. In 2006, the Energía Plus program was launched, which forces industries to find electricity supply on their own to supply demand that is above their 2005 average.

The consequences for the industry ranged from the increased cost of electricity and gas supply [9] to scheduled cuts that forced the suspension of shifts and, therefore, personnel. In a statement dated June 6, 2007, the Argentine Industrial Union (UIA) admitted that “in recent weeks, there have been requests for reduction of electricity demand from more than 4 thousand companies throughout the country, which in Most of the cases, they exceed 40 percent of the total demand of these companies, in a time band of between six and eight hours a day. In the case of gas, the restrictions cover about 900 companies, with cuts that, in some cases, have lasted for several days ”.

According to private studies, restrictions on the provision of electricity and gas between May and June 2007 slowed down industrial activity: soybean and sunflower milling fell to 50%; petrochemicals, 20%; fertilizers, 30%; the steel industry, more than 10 percent. The monetary losses would have been between 1,500 and 2,000 million dollars (Clarín, July 22, 2007). Some large companies decided to undertake the construction of their own thermal plants and medium-sized companies developed projects to install small electricity generators (Revista El Inversor, April 2007). In this scenario, it is not surprising that conflicts appear between different fractions of capital. For example, in 2007 the UIA held the distributor Gas Natural BAN, the largest company in the sector, responsible for the cuts for not building a picking plant (which allows the hydrocarbon to be stored in liquid state) as it had promised the previous year with the in order to collect gas and cover demand in case of an emergency situation (El Inversor Magazine, June 2007).

Under pressure from the private sector, state action was aimed at patching up the critical situation by providing large sums to subsidize consumption [10] and to import energy shortages. A document prepared by the Ministry of Economy in 2007 estimated that the cost of the Argentine energy crisis that year would have been $ 12,000 million between subsidies and imports (Clarín, July 22, 2007). At the same time, the Kirchner government maintained a kind of media confrontation in which it demanded from the oil companies a disbursement of greater investments in fuel production and in exploratory activity [11]. The business response was basically focused on updating internal prices, a claim in which they were increasingly accompanied by the provinces that depend on royalties from the activity.

It should be noted that while Enarsa was in charge of making the main imports of gas from Bolivia and fuel oil and diesel from Venezuela and other countries, the oil companies did not completely abandon their export drive. Despite the increase in withholdings, they continued to ship gas, especially to Chile [12], and crude oil and fuels, mainly to the US market.

Although crude oil sales abroad have been falling throughout the 2003-2007 period, it cannot be disregarded as a data that total sales for that period (40,639,989 m3) were higher than the year with the highest extraction: in 2003 extracted 39,341,403 m3.

In 2007, the most emblematic case was contributed by fuel oil since 988,379 tons were imported, while 1,657,532 million tons were exported. In other words, the importation would not have been necessary since there was ample supply capacity to satisfy domestic demand. The main exporter was Repsol YPF [13], followed by Esso and Shell, with the main destination markets being the US and Puerto Rico (Bernal, De Dicco and Freda, 2008). In the period we are analyzing, fuel oil became especially important, together with diesel, as a fuel for the generation of thermoelectric plants based on the shortage of gas supply.

However, natural gas was not characterized by its scarcity, precisely. Between 2003-2007, extraction levels far exceeded demand and exports were always above imports (See table 1). It could be argued that in front of an average demand that climbs to 140 million cubic meters on peak days, the gas pipeline network can only transport a maximum of 128 million cubic meters (Clarín, June 3, 2007). But as we have said previously, the reasons must be found in that private investment has prioritized the construction of export gas pipelines to the detriment of the expansion of the internal network.

Table 1: Extraction, demand, export and import of natural gas 2003-2007 (in thousands of m3)


Source: Ministry of Energy

In order to measure the losses that the State has assumed, we take Cafiero's judicial complaint about the period 2004-2005. The total fiscal damage, that is, the amount disbursed or that the treasury has ceased to receive in that period is calculated at 4,886 million pesos. This is due to three factors: the fiscal cost of substituting gas for fuel oil and diesel oil for the generation of electric power, higher costs for the use of fuels with lower technical efficiency, and exemptions for the import of diesel (Mario Cafiero, 2006 ). In closing, it should be noted that a good part of the data that we have been analyzing in this paper arises from a simple sworn statement that companies submit to the Ministry of Energy, which does not have enough infrastructure to confirm them.

4. Some partial conclusions

Finally, we will leave raised some key aspects of the hydrocarbon sector in Argentina in order to deepen them in future research.

The National State prioritized the capture of a higher income through withholdings on exports but at the same time incurred significant expenditures to support the importation of energy shortages. A new state-owned company, Enarsa, was created which so far has not substantially modified the relations between state and capital. At the same time, the provincialization of hydrocarbons was consolidated, which generated a decentralization, fragmentation and atomization of the relevant decisions of a coherent energy policy at the national level. The absence of centralized planning undermines any attempt to regulate oil and gas as fundamental natural production conditions in an energy matrix highly dependent on hydrocarbons. An anarchic management is established by the provinces that have a structural weakness to impose conditions on the transnationals.

As a result, capital has a green light to act according to its own logic, adhering to the maximization of profits in the short term. The highest revenue is still obtained through exports over sales to the domestic market, thereby deepening the process of commercialization of oil and gas. These same goods that during the history of the state YPF had been conceived as strategic inputs for industrial production, freight transport and residential consumption.

As for the energy crisis, we will not reach a definitive conclusion as it responds to multiple factors that we cannot develop here. We are interested in leaving raised the problem that capital faces induced by its own logic. The internal shortage of fuel and electricity caused a decline in industrial activity, where thousands of companies were affected by the restriction of gas and electricity supply. Industrial capital was faced with the dilemma of partially stopping its production or facing an increase in energy costs (through the acquisition of generators, construction of its own plants or purchases of fuels at a higher price). In either of the two cases, the production of surplus value is increasingly affected and therefore we are in the presence of a tendency towards the crisis of underproduction. We can only speak of a trend, since capital has a strategy to compensate for it, which up to now has been certainly fruitful: loading the higher energy costs into the state coffers. This is the case with imports of fuel and gas fluid carried out by Enarsa [14]. It is a mechanism that also avoids the direct conflict between the productive fraction and the extractive fraction of capital, if we can analytically separate their denominations.

However, the most serious derivation of the privatization scheme of the hydrocarbon sector is the accelerated depletion of reserves. In 2007, the life horizon of hydrocarbons (that is, the relationship between proven reserves and total extraction at the end of that year) was around 8 years, when before the privatization of Yacimientos Petrolifos Fiscales (YPF) gas reserves reached to 35 years and those of oil, to 15. In the near future a radical change is foreseen for Argentina: from being a country with oil and gas, it will become a net importer of hydrocarbons, with all the economic weight that this will have. Even more important, it is the clarification of the insurmountable contradiction between the irreproducibility and finiteness of nature and the capitalist mercantile logic that destroys its own natural conditions of production.

Ignacio Sabbatella - Ecological Marxism

Bibliography:

Altvater, Elmar (2009). Ecology from a Marxist perspective, in the course: "Political ecology in contemporary capitalism". (Latin American Distance Education Program, Floreal Gorini Cultural Cooperation Center, Buenos Aires).

(2005). The end of capitalism. Available at http://www.casabertoltbrecht.org.uy

(2003) Marxist theory today, problems and perspectives Is there an ecological Marxism today? Available at http://www.bibliotecavirtual.clacso.org.ar

Bernal, Federico (2005). Oil, State and Sovereignty. Towards the multistate Latin American hydrocarbon company. Buenos Aires: Editorial Biblos

Bernal, F., De Dicco, R. and Freda, J (2008). One Hundred Years of Argentine Oil: Discovery, Looting and Prospects. Keys for everyone. Buenos Aires: Capital Intelectual.

Cafiero, Mario (2006). La irracional exportación de gas a Chile. Revista Industrializar Argentina, septiembre de 2006, Año 4, Nº 5, Buenos Aires.

Calcagno, Alfredo y Calcagno, Eric (2001). La privatización del petróleo. Azaroso destino de YPF. Le Monde diplomatique, Bs As.

(2005). Al borde del abismo energético. Le Monde diplomatique, edición Cono Sur. Buenos Aires.

Cervo, Augusto (2001). La privatización de YPF y sus consecuencias. Tiempos Patagónicos, Revista del Programa de Investigación Geográfico Político Patagónico, Año III, N° 7, Septiembre 2001.

De Dicco, Ricardo (2006). 2010, ¿Odisea energética? Petróleo y crisis. Buenos Aires: Capital Intelectual.

De Dicco, R, Lahoud, G, y Bernal, F (2006). Pan para hoy, hambre para mañana. Le Monde diplomatique, edición Cono Sur, octubre 2006, Buenos Aires.

Galafassi, Guido (1998). Aproximación a la problemática ambiental desde las ciencias sociales. Un análisis desde la relación naturaleza-cultura y el proceso de trabajo. Revista Theorethikos, año 1, Nº 6. En: http://www.ufg.edu.sv/ufg/theorethikos

Galé, Nidia (2005). El gas en la Argentina. Más de un siglo de historia. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Cooperativas.

Giarracca, Norma (2006). La tragedia del desarrollo: disputas por los recursos naturales en Argentina. Revista Sociedad, Nº 27. Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, UBA, Buenos Aires.

Harvey, David (2004). El nuevo imperialismo: acumulación por desposesión. Disponible en: www.marxismoecologico.blogspot.com

Herrero, Félix (2006). Sed de petróleo y gas en el futuro inmediato. Le Monde diplomatique, edición Cono Sur, abril 2006. Buenos Aires.

Korol, Claudia (2004). La crisis energética argentina puede ser fruto de las privatizaciones. Disponible en: www.rebelion.org

Lozada, Salvador (2006). Un proyecto de ley continuista. Buenos Aires.

Mansilla, Diego (2007). Hidrocarburos y política energética. De la importancia estratégica al valor económico: desregulación y privatización de los hidrocarburos en Argentina. Buenos Aires: Ediciones CCC, Centro Cultural de la Cooperación Floreal Gorini..

(2006). Una aproximación al problema de la renta petrolera en la Argentina (1996-2005). Realidad Económica, octubre-noviembre 2006. Buenos Aires.

Martínez Alier, Joan, 2005, Los conflictos ecológico-distributivos y los indicadores de sustentabilidad, disponible en:
http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=22206

1995, De la economía ecológica al ecologismo popular, Editorial Icaria, Barcelona.

Marx, Karl, 2005, Elementos fundamentales para la crítica de la economía política (Grundrisse), borrador 1857-1858. México: Siglo Veintiuno Editores.

2001, El Capital. Libro I, Capítulo VI (inédito). México: Siglo Veintiuno Editores.

2000, El Capital. Crítica de la economía política. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

MORENO (Movimiento por la Recuperación de la Energía Nacional Orientadora) (2006). La causa del MORENO. Defensa del petróleo argentino. Buenos Aires.

O´Connor, James, 2001, Causas naturales. Ensayos de marxismo ecológico. México: Siglo Veintiuno Editores.

Polanyi, Kart, 1989, La gran transformación. Madrid: La Piqueta.

Sabbatella, Ignacio, 2008, Capital y naturaleza: crisis, desigualdad y conflictos ambientales. Ponencia presentada en las II Jornadas de Economía Política, noviembre de 2008, Universidad de General Sarmiento, Buenos Aires.

Seifert, Thomas y Werner, Klaus (2008). El libro negro del petróleo: una historia de codicia, guerra, poder y dinero. Buenos Aires: Capital Intelectual.

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Fuentes consultadas:

Diario Clarín

Diario La Nación

Diario Página 12

Ente Nacional de Regulación del Gas

Ley 25.943/2004 (Creación de ENARSA)Ley 26.154/2006 (Regímenes promocionales para la exploración y explotación de hidrocarburos)

Ley 26.217/2006 (Prórroga de la vigencia del derecho a la exportación de hidrocarburos creado por el articulo 6º de la ley Nº 25.561)

Ley 26.197/2006 (Administración de las provincias sobre los yacimientos de hidrocarburos de sus territorios, lecho y subsuelo del mar territorial).

Revista El Inversor Energético y Minero, varios números.

Revista Industrializar Argentina, septiembre 2006, Año 4, Nº 5

Revista Petrotecnia, varios números.

Secretaría de Energía

Unión Industrial Argentina

References:

[1] Presentado en las IV Jornadas de Economía Ecológica en la Universidad de Gral. Sarmiento, Buenos Aires, Argentina, el 28 de noviembre de 2009.

[2] Parafraseamos el subtítulo del libro de Thomas Seifert y Klaus Werner (2008).

[3] El 21 de octubre de 2009 la cotización del petróleo WTI de Nueva York cerró en 80, 57 dólares (Fuente: http://www.precio-petroleo.es).

[4] “Una revisión general del rol permanente y de la persistencia de prácticas depredadoras de acumulación “primitiva” u “originaria” a lo largo de la geografía histórica de la acumulación de capital resulta muy pertinente, tal como lo han señalado recientemente muchos analistas. Dado que denominar “primitivo” u “originario” a un proceso en curso parece desacertado, en adelante voy a sustituir estos términos por el concepto de “acumulación por desposesión”. Una mirada más atenta de la descripción que hace Marx de la acumulación originaria revela un rango amplio de procesos. Estos incluyen la mercantilización y privatización de la tierra y la expulsión forzosa de las poblaciones campesinas; la conversión de diversas formas de derechos de propiedad – común, colectiva, estatal, etc.– en derechos de propiedad exclusivos; la supresión del derecho a los bienes comunes; la transformación de la fuerza de trabajo en mercancía y la supresión de formas de producción y consumo alternativas; los procesos coloniales, neocoloniales e imperiales de apropiación de activos, incluyendo los recursos naturales; la monetización de los intercambios y la recaudación de impuestos, particularmente de la tierra; el tráfico de esclavos; y la usura, la deuda pública y, finalmente, el sistema de crédito. El estado, con su monopolio de la violencia y sus definiciones de legalidad, juega un rol crucial al respaldar y promover estos procesos” (Harvey, 2004).

[5] Polanyi estaba pensando en los orígenes históricos de la economía de mercado como un sistema autorregulado. Para ello era imprescindible establecer ficticiamente al hombre y a la naturaleza como mercancías. “La producción es interacción entre el hombre y la naturaleza; para que este proceso se organice a través de un mecanismo autorregulador de trueque e intercambio, el hombre y la naturaleza deberán ser atraídos a su órbita; deberán quedar sujetos a la oferta y la demanda, es decir, deberán ser tratados como mercancías, como bienes producidos para la venta (…) El hombre con la denominación de fuerza de trabajo, la naturaleza con la denominación de tierra, quedaban disponibles para su venta; el uso de la fuerza de trabajo podía comprarse y venderse universalmente a un precio llamado salario, y el uso de la tierra podía negociarse por un precio llamado renta. Había un mercado de mano de obra y un mercado de tierra, y la oferta y la demanda de cada mercado estaban reguladas por el nivel de los salarios y de las rentas, respectivamente: se mantenía consistentemente la ficción de que la mano de obra y la tierra se producían para la venta” (Polanyi, 1989:137).

[6] La internalización de costos ecológicos provocados por la contaminación ambiental es, sin dudas, otro problema al cual se puede enfrentar el capital pero que no trataremos aquí.

[7] La Ley de Emergencia Económica de 2002 había introducido el derecho de exportación de los hidrocarburos que el gobierno kirchnerista no sólo utilizó sino que también lo prorrogó a través de la Ley 26.217/2006. La retención de la exportación de petróleo crudo aumentó de un 20% en 2002 a un 25% en 2004 más una sobretasa según el precio internacional, que en la práctica llevaron la retención a un 45% (Resoluciones 337 y 532 del Ministerio de Economía). En 2007 se adoptan las retenciones móviles con un valor de corte de 42 dólares y un valor de referencia de 60,9 que con la cotización récord de 2008 alcanzó un 250% (Resolución 394 de 2007 del Ministerio de Economía). En el caso del gas natural se introdujeron retenciones por primera vez en 2004 de un 20% (Decreto 645/04) y en 2006 treparon al 45% (Resolución 534/2006 del Ministerio de Economía). Para las naftas, el fuel oil y el gasoil, que desde 2002 retenían el 5%, también se adoptaron las retenciones móviles en 2007.

[8] Otros argumentos que esgrimieron las empresas fueron el aumento de la demanda de energía por el crecimiento económico, la madurez de los yacimientos, la falta de incentivos para invertir en refinación, las retenciones a las exportaciones, el vencimiento de las concesiones y los conflictos gremiales.

[9] Algunas empresas debieron negociar su demanda creciente en forma directa con los distribuidores de energía y por lo tanto, debieron afrontar mayores costos. Por ejemplo, algunas pagaron 2,40 dólares por millón de BTU cuando el acuerdo entre el gobierno y las gasíferas era de 1,85 dólares (Revista El Inversor, Diciembre de 2007).

[10] Probablemente, el subsidio al consumo haya estado motivado principalmente como paliativo al descontento popular que generarían los cortes de suministro o un alza de las tarifas.

[11] Durante 2007 la cantidad de pozos exploratorios de hidrocarburos fue 45 (Bernal, De Dicco y Freda, 2008). Basta comparar con el promedio anual de 117 pozos exploratorios que implementó YPF durante la década del 80 (De Dicco, 2006).

[12] Mario Cafiero (2006) demuestra en una denuncia judicial presentada junto al Dr. Ricardo Monner Sans y Javier Llorens que el negocio de la exportación de gas a Chile (que en 2005 representaba un 83% del total de las exportaciones de gas natural) se encuentra altamente concentrado. Un pequeño número de empresas, con vinculaciones accionarias entre sí, controlan la extracción, la exportación, el transporte y la importación del gas argentino. El liderazgo de lo que denomina como trust lo ejerce Repsol-YPF.

[13] Como nota de color, no deja de llamar la atención que el Estado Nacional premie a Repsol YPF por convertirse en el mayor exportador del país, aún tratándose en buena parte de petróleo crudo: “El premio anual que otorgan el Ministerio de Economía y Producción y la Cancillería argentina al mayor exportador no da lugar a imprevistos: en 2005, por decimotercera vez consecutiva, la compañía española se llevó el primer lugar. La petrolera realizó exportaciones durante 2004 por 2.735 millones de dólares. Del total de las ventas al exterior, un 70% corresponden a productos petrolíferos procesados en las refinerías de la compañía en la Argentina con mano de obra nacional, mientras que un 30% restante corresponde a commodities, como el petróleo crudo, principalmente” (Revista El Inversor Energético y Minero, Octubre 2005).

[14] A su vez, podríamos decir que los hechos recientes apuntan a que el destinatario final del impacto de la crisis energética sea el consumidor final, es decir, la población trabajadora por medio de la aplicación de los tarifazos en el suministro de electricidad y de gas.


Video: How to fuel the future. The Economist (July 2022).


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