Bottom line, we are one of the countries with the greatest energy potential in the world, and when I say potential, I mean it both ways. On the plus side, because of the massive opportunities we have at our fingertips. And on the negative side, our inability to develop it properly and our inability to change the country’s internal energy and foreign trade matrix, even today.
Let me ask two simple questions: Why haven’t we been able to tap this potential properly yet? Some will say for political reasons, others for ideological or macroeconomic reasons, but most of them are, in the sum of them all. In my opinion, it’s simpler: we didn’t work because we couldn’t agree. And then: How do we start developing it? The obvious answer is “agree”. If this is exactly the right thing to do, then the right question would be, how do we begin to agree? And at this point we also have a large number of visions: more or less visions of a country, short or long-term visions, thinking about domestic consumption or foreign trade. If we continue to nurture those visions unilaterally, we know what will happen. We have to do something different.
If you’ll excuse me, I suggest a modest first step to help us think about creating a strategy. It’s simple: dialogue. Working for a multinational company has allowed me to see how some countries have developed their capabilities. An example is Chile, with its advances in renewables and hydrogen, or the United States with oil shale, to name a few.
How did they do that? Dialogue between and among sectors. The outcome of this dialogue generally ends with the policy of the state. An example in our country is the “Vaca Muerta Dialogue Table” created in 2017 consisting of the nation state, the Neuquén County, oil unions and private companies. Its result produced an investment boom that, in the very short term – months – changed the productive profile of shale gas in the country. But this attempt was small in my opinion because the dialogue did not last. Let’s take it for granted, we now know that talking tables have to last over time and be small, sectorial, focused and with the right actors. Let’s do it.
We have been discussing prices for years, in fact what we are trading is the result of not talking, we are talking about costs. The prices, if we add what the end user pays in their monthly bill plus what the national treasury contributes in terms of subsidies, they are high as a result of our inefficient matrix. Dialogue, agreement on clear rules and long-term goals that are maintained over time, become competitive, and change the focus of discussions. All this prevails in Argentina today.
I consider myself an optimist and I am sure that in the future Argentina will be very successful, if we make use of our energy potential. Today I invite you to create the sectoral dialogue tables, we know who the representatives of each of them should be. The nation-state, regional states, opposition, corporations and unions. It’s easier to do that than not to do it.