Argentina intends to sell gas to Europe in the coming years and Spain could be its gateway, President Alberto Fernández said Tuesday after a meeting in Madrid with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
"We can be a stable energy supplier," Fernández wrote on Twitter, after a one-hour meeting with his Socialist counterpart in Moncloa.
During the meeting with Sánchez, the two leaders discussed the challenges "posed by the war in the heart of Europe," said Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero in a social media post, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
"President Fernández expressed our country's vocation to be a stable supplier of food and energy at this time of such uncertainty," Cafiero added in a video message.
The Ukraine war has contributed to higher food and energy prices across the world, particularly gas, which Russia is one of the world's main producers of.
In addition, many European nations want to free themselves from dependence on Russian gas for political reasons.
The construction of a massive new gas pipeline running from the Vaca Muerta shale formation in Patagonia "will generate energy self-sufficiency for Argentina" and open up possibilities "to become a natural exporter of liquefied natural gas," Cafiero added.
Taking into account that Spain has six liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification terminals – more than any other European country – Argentina’s foreign minister talked up the possibility of "an agreement between both countries to be able to advance in this provision of liquefied natural gas for the whole of Europe."
For its part, the Spanish government recognised, in a communiqué issued after the meeting, that “Argentina is one of the world's major food producers, as well as possessing an important energy export potential (gas, liquefied natural gas and oil).'
Argentina’s gas production capabilities are growing thanks to the development of the Vaca Muerta formation, but it has yet to reach self-sufficiency and must import gas from Bolivia (in 2021, as much as 12 million cubic metres per day) and LNG.
Argentina’s government expects the first stage of construction of the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline to be completed in 2024.
The Vaca Muerta basin extends over 30,000 square kilometres in Patagonia, southwest Argentina, and is considered to be the world's second-largest shale gas reserve and the fourth-largest shale oil reserve.
Fernández, who was due to meet Spanish King Felipe IV later Tuesday evening, also discussed inflation, the restructuring of Argentina's debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the war in Ukraine with Prime Minister Sánchez.
Government officials described the talks as “very cordial” and said that both leaders were concerned with the impact of the Ukraine war on prices and food security.
Fernández also thanked his counterpart for his support for Argentina’s debt restructuring process with the IMF, while Sánchez congratulated his peer for having successfully concluded the negotiations.
"Spain was an important player, it helped to make European countries aware of Argentina's need to reach a good agreement," Cafiero emphasised in comments made to reporters at the country’s Embassy in Madrid.
In addition, Fernández told Sánchez about Argentina's economic situation and affirmed that the country "is growing" and "there are good prospects for this year while the world is expecting a recession," said the foreign minister.