Oil exploration advances off the coast of Mar del Plata

An oil exploration project in very deep waters off the coast of Mar del Plata, led by the multinational Equinor in alliance with YPF and Shell, is underway, protected by the narrative of underdevelopment that has invaded a large part of our political class and framed in the confrontation of a society shocked by the socioeconomic crisis.

But every 4 days in the #Atlanticazo, the coastal communities that resist this reckless mining adventure remind us that other projects and valuation logics are alive and well, a debate opens about the role of our territory in the predatory logic of capital and that They are the key to creating the future.

Argerich oil exploration project

The Argerich project, aimed at the search for hydrocarbons in the Argentine Sea by international corporations, was suspended for about two years due to a series of legal actions, but after its expiration, the initiative still continues.

Since October 9, environmental movements have closely followed the trajectory of the BGP exploration vessel hired by the international oil company Equinor (Norway), which stopped receiving the vessel's coordinates due to loss of communication, contact and visibility on the map, concluding that is already in the area carrying out drilling work.

The Argentine Offshore Oil Exploration Initiative is the first of its kind on the Argentine coast and although led by Equinor, its partners include YPF (35%) and Shell (30%).

According to official sources, the project has an area of ​​15.000 square kilometers, is located 300 kilometers from the coast of Mar del Plata and has a depth of 1.527 meters and was approved on 3December 0th 2021.

Society participation is needed

This is a renewed central debate on development and environmental models that increasingly require the participation of the entire society.

The arguments of representatives of the environmental, scientific and judicial sectors that condemn its severity are based on the proximity of the seismic activity: 300 km from the coast of Mar del Plata.

They also cite the damage that exploration activities cause to marine life, the lack of royalties for the country and the risk that these activities pose to fishing, tourism, as well as sports and other recreational activities if an accident occurs in a key coastal area such as the city of Mar del Plata.


Location of the prospector vessel

The latest information available on the location of the BGP Prospector places it near Villa Gesell on Sunday, October 8, which suggests that it may have been located within the CAN (Northern Argentine Basin) block 100, which together with blocks 108 and 114, They are part of three blocks tendered for drilling tasks for the province of Buenos Aires.

Designed specifically for the exploration of mineral deposits, “You can only follow it with the satellite signal. We are not certain about his position, his career, or the performance of his tasks.", they maintain from the Assembly for a Sea Free of Oil Tankers from Mar del Plata.

Offshore drilling is resisted by a set of assemblies and groups, from the province of Buenos Aires to Tierra del Fuego, forming the Network of Coastal Communities: "a self-managed, horizontal and democratic space where all voices are heard and have the same weight; and where we organize ourselves into work committees to address multiple tasks", describes Fernanda Montes, one of the members of the network.

Why is this an ecocidal initiative?

Carolina García Kurilaf, member of the investigative committee of the Assembly for an Oil-Free Sea, details Equinor's history of recent oil spills: “11 major oil spills in 2020 and 10 more in 2019”. For her part, María Cecilia Bonadero, a graduate student in biological sciences, maintains that “The current offshore drilling in the Argentine Sea is carried out at less than 100 meters deep (shallow waters), while the authorized exploration is in ultra-deep waters, it is between 1700 and 4000 meters deep."According to her, the Argerich project"It is not taken into account that the largest accident in oil history was in an exploratory well of waters of just over a thousand meters, in the Gulf of Mexico, which was being drilled by the Deepwater Horizon oil platform run by the British Petroleum company."He explains.

Bonadero is also a member of the  Assembly for a Sea Free of Oil Tankers and describes in detail the characteristics of seismic research, especially the use of very high intensity and energy sound waves that cause physiological and behavioral damage to marine life.

He states that this damage to marine organisms affects their auditory systems, their internal cavities and tissues, and makes them “They often move away from the seismic exploration site, if they can do so.", which can cause "that end up in inhospitable habitats not suitable for their survival, especially in species that use sound for reproduction or feeding, as happens with many marine mammals. The auditory systems, if such seismic activities become viable, could be incapable of communicating with other individuals of the same species for courtship or to communicate with their young."

Economic arguments for oil exploitation

As with any mining operation, environmental damage is overshadowed by economic arguments. Regarding royalties, Bonadero reflects on the old myth that oil-producing cities consume hydrocarbons: “Around Vaca Muerta they do not have gas networks, in Ushuaia where they also extract, many places subsist on cylinders because they are exported with very low royalties,” he indicates. In the case of the Argerich Project, according to hydrocarbon law 27.007, it is stipulated that “for the first ten years of export, a 100% royalty corresponds to Argentina for the Can 3".

What about legal actions?

On October 4, the Argentine Association of Environmental Lawyers (AAAA), together with the Action Collective for Ecosocial Justice, launched a precautionary measure to stop exploration through drilling in the Argentine Sea. The decision was made in the context of #Atlanticazo, a protest organized by the Coastal Communities Network on the 4th of each month.

For Gonzalo Vergés, member of AAAA, the judicial sector is important for Argerich because it is “one of the most complex causes of the recent past within the framework of litigation or collective strategic processes”"In this case we litigate against multinational, pseudo-state companies such as YPF, and against the national state itself, but also correlatively against provincial states that have enormous interests.” and warns that the project violates general principles of environmental law, reasonableness, preventive, and precautionary law.

Regarding the protection process, he explained, "The organizations continue with the judicial process, since everything that has been discussed during these two years has been related to preventive measures and not to complaints of violations"

Public hearings are an important aspect. "In our country we have a law in this regard that, although they are not binding, does not mean that once finalized a report should not be made on the positions of the people who expressed themselves, quantitative and qualitative issues.“added the lawyer specialized in the environment.
He concluded: “The public official who granted the environmental impact statement despite all the red lights not to do so is criminally responsible for that matter. He is not binding but generates that responsibility.”

Vergez, like many others, registers his efforts alongside those who defend the idea of ​​an ecosocial transition based on grassroots popular processes. “One proposal is that YPF be of the 21st century and move towards a right to energy and not towards a service.” Regarding the unknowns and risks posed by offshore exploration, I stated that “the controls of what happens at sea are impossible to know, it can begin at any moment because the time window begins to run.”".


With information of: https://huerquen.com.ar/