30 May 2007

So cold

Did I tell you already I'm freakin' cold these days, all day?

This is not normal. Sure, those cold waves from freezing airmasses coming from Antarctica are not uncommon at all. Just not like this, in mid-autumn, and lasting a week, and featuring those lovely sub-zero temperatures every day. It's almost 10:00 PM and we're still under freezing point, and it's terribly humid, and yet this weather is so ill-behaved that it's not snowing as predicted. It hasn't happened in Rosario since 1973, but it may this winter, though. It's already snowed in places of Córdoba Province and in Mendoza — both on the same latitude as Rosario. So, no adorable pictures of snow-white parks for you.

People are dying as a result of the cold, and there are serious problems with the power generation and distribution, and the supply of natural gas. Those who don't live in Argentina may not fully appreciate what that means for us. Electricity, except for lighting, is comparatively expensive, and so are most fossil fuels. Natural gas (as a real gas, or compressed and liquefied) is employed for home heating, to heat our bathwater, to cook, and to power cars (Argentina has the greatest absolute number of LNG-powered vehicles). Industries use loads of natural gas for all sorts of processes, and power stations burn it to generate energy. When there's not enough, they have to use fuel oil, which is four times the price (and that, only thanks to Mad Hugo up there).

Now, we produce a lot of gas and export a lot of it to Chile, but when demand is high the flow is stopped so as to supply internal consumption first. Since this is the case now, the Chileans are mad at us. Chile made the mistake of planning its energy future based on Argentina's abundante supply of cheap gas (we all know you can't pin your future to Argentina's anything!). Interestingly, Bolivia, which sits atop a veritable ocean of liquid and gasseous hydrocarbons, provides us with a lot of extra gas, and has more than enough for Chile too, but due to a territorial dispute they refuse to sell it to them (and only sell to us on the condition that we don't re-route it to Chile!). The dispute could be solved if only Chile gave back to Bolivia a strip of land that reaches up to the Pacific Ocean, which it stole ages ago; but that won't happen soon.

Back to Argentina and to Rosario and to me: I'm cold (did I tell you already?) and I also officially have a nasty cold as of today, which is a pity since these days are so sunny they motivate you to go outside, but I can't risk catching something worse. On the other hand, better get some antibodies now than during my winter vacations.


  1. Hi Pablo. I was wondering looking at the weather forecasts if that is always so cold! Even in Salta it was only like +6 or so - frio!

  2. Don't know about Salta, but in Rosario sub-zero temperatures are very rare, commonly one-day occurrences in the middle of winter. I don't remember anything like this in my life.

  3. Pablo –

    I’ve compared our electricity and gas expenditures both in BsAs, and in Northern California.

    In the US, we pay about 7 times the cost per month (in dollar terms) than we do in Argentina. In both places we are very energy conscious – using a lot of fluorescent lighting, and keeping the inside temperatures moderate. The seasonal variation in cost in each place is at most 2-fold: high cooling costs in the southern summer, but low heating costs in the southern winter (due to our neighbors’ heat keeping our apartment warm), and higher heating costs in the northern winter, but no air conditioning in summer.

    All in all, I find the energy costs in Argentina to be significantly less. I know this is about to change with the K administration renegotiating the domestic gas and electricity rates that have been frozen since 2002. I suspect that they may be delaying rate hikes until after the election, since they will undoubtedly cause a significant increase in the inflation index, not only directly, but in the energy content of goods and services.



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