Nuclear crack: Cristina Kirchner’s order, energy governance and the key role of the IMF

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The repairs in the Atucha II Nuclear Power Plant entered the final stage and the authorities of Nucleoeléctrica Argentina Limited Company (NASA) planned to put the reactor back into operation in July. the rush for get the generator running againwhich has a capacity of 745 MWe, responds to the cost burden that the country has to face to replace that energy, but also to certify that the national model of development and substitution of imports it is valid. The Vice President’s Order Cristina Kirchner is speed up expansion plans that are in project phases or incipient implementation, with the aim of condition its deactivation before a possible government in the hands of Together for Change.

In the commissioning of the nuclear power plant, the stakes are two central points that the ruling party has on its agenda: the industrial models, with job creation and local development; and the currency savings, in a context where the dollars put the reserves of the Central Bank in check. If it goes well, the argentine nasa will be part of the Electoral campaign agenda of the Frente de Todosas a success story to guarantee clean electrical energy during the winter, and avoiding an expense of USD 400 million and “incalculable” losses due to lack of billing.

Atucha II prepares to return: how the largest nuclear reactor in Argentina is repaired

But there is also a ideological resistance. It happens that the company is a public limited company with share capital divided between the National Ministry of Economy (79%), the National Atomic Energy Commission (20%) and Energía Argentina SA (ENARSA) (1%), and is a charge of the operation and energy production nuclear power, through nuclear power plants: Atucha I, Atucha II and Reservoir. Among the three, he has one total installed power of 1,763 MW. He is led by the command of La Cámpora, the group led by max kirchner and that lines up behind the command of Cristina Kirchnerone of the FdT companies.

Kirchnerism took over energy governance

Since coming to power in 2003, the Kirchnerism knew how to take over the governance of the energy sectors and, with the creation of public limited companies integrated by the State, to respect keeping all management leadership, so that key decisions can be made. Nuclear power plants are an example of policies in this direction, and their names respond to this identification: Atucha I is called Juan Domingo Perón; and Atucha II, Nestor Kirchner. Both were sanctioned by the National Congress in 2014 and became a symbol of belonging.

Atucha II Nuclear Power Plant.

But the expansion of its technical and political cadres they reached other companiesas YPF and enarsaas well as in the Secretaries and Directions. This situation will present tensions in the Frente de Todos, when other sectors of the Government tried to occupy strategic positions in the most powerful decentralized savings banks. The first to suffer the Kirchnerist harassment was the former president of YPF and current ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Guillermo Nielsen.who left the flag oil company a little over a year in office. Another one that crashed into the power K he was the ex-minister of economy Martin Guzman, which saw its attempt to gain control of the organization chart of the Ministry of Energy fail. the one of sergio masa and the secretary Flavia Royon relaxed the stagebut La Cámpora maintained management power.

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The plan applied was import substitution. “The National Atomic Energy Commission, which is what Atucha I did, had a policy: ‘if it can be done here, it’s done here’. We are heirs and continuers of that idea”, affirmed the president of Nucleoeléctrica Argentina, Jose Luis Antunezin dialogue with PROFILE, during a tour of the nuclear power plant. That is why it was ruled out originally proposed planto disassemble the reactivator and repair the fault that is at the base of the drum that covers it, because this process would last three years and an investment of USD 400 million. “With our method, we have spent 2 million and the total budget will not exceed USD 20 million. But we did not do it thinking about saving money, but about save timebecause the plant stopped for three years is an incalculable fortune, ”said the head honcho of NASA.

Atucha II Nuclear Power Plant 20230524
Antúnez chairs the company Nucleoenergética Sociedad Anónima (NASA), which operates the Atucha and Embalse power plants

Complaints of emptying, the electoral letter K to defend Atucha

If the success of Atucha I is repeated, the NASA Board will give it a key result for the economic and energy interests of the countryjust when the debates around the presidential proposals that will open the August primary election. One of the cards on the table that Kirchnerism will put will be the political energy and will seek to bother Together for Change. It happens that the closest antecedent is the “empty” of the Atucha complex during the management of Mauricio Macriwhere the closed Heavy Water Industrial Plant (PIAP) in Neuquén, and which forced the import of this type of D20 water, necessary to cool the nuclear power plants located in the Buenos Aires city of Lima, 100 kilometers from the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (CABA).

“Information they have. Consciousness, each one interprets it in their own way. If not, there would be no a political sector that promoted this plant and made it progress, and another that closed it. What they have on their conscience, I don’t know. I do know, clearly, which side I am on, ”said Antúnez, in a criticism that he sought as a target for the opposition. In NASA they highlighted that the forced paralysis of Atucha I causes significant losses: every day which is off, stops billing about USD 600,000. And for each month, it obliges the Wholesale Electricity Market Administration Company (Cammesa) to buy fuel to replace this lack of electricity generation, the equivalent of a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) ship, which in the market is valued at about $40 million.

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He Kirchnerism will seek to accelerate investment plans in the nuclear area. For that, he intends to get the financing of USD 8,000 million for the construction of Atucha III, which has a reserved place in the Buenos Aires property, on the banks of the Paraná Las Palmas river. there the US pressure to prevent China fromwho has already signed a commercial contract since January of last year, log in as a player in an area that is key to US interests. For that, he made known his disagreementjust within the framework of the negotiations that Massa maintains with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to advance disbursements before the elections. The multilateral credit organization will play a key role in that debate.

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But there are also other planes: reactivate the PIAP plant, build the Dry Storage for Burnt Fuel Elements (ASECG II) and extend the useful life of Atucha I. The operating license for the country’s first nuclear power plant, commissioned in 1974, issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority ends in 2024, marking the end of its first useful life cycle. “Since 2006, we began to carry out the necessary studies to evaluate the life extension project and it was concluded that Atucha I could generate clean and safe energy for two more decades. The stop of reconditioning It will last thirty months to be carried out between 2024 and 2026 and implies a investment of USD 450 millionthe creation of 2,000 direct and indirect jobs and the generation of opportunities for qualified national suppliers for the tasks of construction and manufacturing of components”, highlights NASA.

Atucha II Nuclear Power Plant 20230524
NASA directors hope to have Atucha II up and running before August

If you manage to put all the initiatives in motion, I will leave you light the fuse of a bomb that is difficult to defusebecause a possible stoppage of the projects, by a new government with conflicting energy policies, It will cost Argentina the loss of the investments implemented to date, added to the legal demands for the fall of commercial contracts. But, in particular, give elements to that sector of Peronism to denounce an “extermination plan” of energy self-sustainability policies, through the country’s nuclear plants.

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“A decision of those characteristics will hit legal security that so much is claimed, especially in the energy area, that it became the new star of national production, with export possibilities, such as Vaca Muerta gas. Let’s hope they don’t get too excited”, ironized an official source, linked to the Christian Instituto Patria.

AM / DE

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