Argentine gas pipeline could cause environmental damage in Brazil, experts warn

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President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (PT) defended this Tuesday (24) financing for the construction of a gas pipeline network to transport natural gas produced in the Vaca Muerta field, in Argentina. The country would start offering natural gas to Brazil.

The issue is that the type of gas exploited there pollutes more than the product that Brazil produces, according to specialists consulted by the CNN .

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The main argument of the Brazilian government when defending possible financing from the BNDES (National Bank for Economic and Social Development) for the second section of the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline works, in Argentina, is that Brazil will have more natural gas, at a lower price.

The work is considered a key instrument to boost the extraction of shale gas in the region that is home to one of the largest reserves in the world. The idea is that in the future this gas will reach Brazil.

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In the view of economist Adriano Pires, the financing of this gas pipeline would bring some benefits at this time. For him, the country needs thermal plants to give more reliability to the electrical system.

“Brazil needs fertilizer and we saw, with the war in Ukraine, that the country imports practically 80% of the product. And to make fertilizer, you need natural gas. You have a steel industry, you have a ceramics industry, you have a chemical industry. So, this range of consumers can benefit from the gas offer”, he points out.

Environmental risks

Despite the possible advantages, experts linked to the environment are against funding, because the technique used to extract shale gas is highly polluting.

The argument is that this would go against the grain of the green agenda, which has been one of the BNDES’ priorities in recent years.

For Pedro Côrtes, tutor at USP or full professor at USP’s energy and environment institute, the question of how to produce shale gas. “They inject gas underground to force the gas out and when they use that process, they pollute the entire underground. It is very harmful to the environment”.

According to Côrtes, the government wants to invest in fossil fuel when it should encourage another type of production. “We produce and our production is associated with another type of rock. In the case of the pre-salt, there is a lot of gas, when they drill the gas is extracted and there is no fracturing of the rock. Our environmental damage in exploration is less”.

The expert explains that both cases are fossil fuels and when they burn they cause pollution, compromising the environment.

However, on one point, the two specialists agree: the ideal would be for the government to invest in the gas found in Brazil, which is less polluting, has large reserves and is no longer used due to lack of structure. Today, it is necessary to reinject part of the gas extracted due to the lack of drainage ducts.

Brazilian gas

In Brazil, the gas explored is the pre-salt. Extraction is done by drilling through soil layers, one by one, with minimal damage to the environment.

In the exploration of shale gas, present in Argentina, a vertical drilling is carried out and then a horizontal one. Then, water and chemicals are introduced to release gas and oil that may be “trapped” between the rocks. This can contaminate the soil and groundwater in the region.

Shale gas exploration is not regulated in Brazil. In Paraná there is even a law that prohibits the use of the technique.

But this environmental issue still divides opinions, for Pires, this should be a concern for Argentina, where the exploration takes place, and not for Brazil.

“Today, Brazil has a problem which is to increase the supply of gas. By the way, not only Brazil, because Europe also suffers from this issue. Bringing gas from Argentina is good, but the problem is the supply of Brazilian gas. We cannot be held hostage by importers. It is necessary to increase the supply of natural gas”, he concludes.

Source: CNN Brasil

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