Fernando Cabrera of the Southern Oil Observatory warned of the danger involved in advancing the frontier of oil exploitation. He assured that extractivism does not guarantee economic development or jobs.
The South Petroleum Observatory is an organization born in 2008 in the cities of Buenos Aires and Neuquén. Its main challenge is to ensure that the production and consumption of energy is done in a fair, democratic, healthy and sustainable way. Fernando Cabrera, a member of the organization, went through Radio Kermés.
“We are a group of study, research and journalism, which for 13 years we have been trying to debate an edge that in 2008 did not have the importance that it has today linked to socio-economic impacts. – environmental of the exploitation of hydrocarbons, which is the main source of energy of the country“Fernando Cabrera explained.
He added that the observatory emerged to generate a critical look at extractivism.
– What conclusions were reached?
– We feel a significant joy, because it has become an issue that is no longer a small group of organizations and sectors, to be an issue that society talks about. Energy was an issue that was not discussed and closed between business and some government sectors, and on the other hand, socio-environmental impacts are today inseparable from any discussion that takes place around energy. ‘energy.
All these things that we point out as complex, problematic, have today become urgent. If the debate has broadened socially, it is because there is an urgent need to change, to transform, to strongly criticize the energy model of Argentina and of the world in general.
– We always talk about the advance of the agro-industrial frontier, how do you see the advance of the oil frontier?
– We were born in 2008, because in 2006 a legislative process was closed that gave the provinces possession of the subsoil. This prompted provinces with hydrocarbon resources, deposits and formations to bid. It was the first big breakthrough, oil companies reaching places they had never gone or abandoned in the 1960s.
Shortly after, Vaca Muerta appears, a rock in the subsoil which, thanks to technological advances such as fracking, which involves more water use, more equipment, more clearing, more environmental damage , can be mined and becomes a great new frontier on areas they had been mined conventionally, less harmful than the way it is mined today. We continue to work hard on this axis, discussing the advancement of Vaca Muerta as the only option Argentina has to obtain energy and foreign currency. Now we also highlight the advance on the coasts of Buenos Aires and Río Negro.
We try to generate information on how this progress is made at the frontier of exploitation.
– How do you view the announcements that offshore platforms will have no impact?
– The announcements and advertisements of the arrival of these big mega-corporations seem to be the panacea. They say that Argentina will take the leap and become a developed country, with growth and without poverty. But we have seen that none of the promises have been kept, Vaca Muerta has come to guarantee energy sovereignty, self-sufficiency, it has come to guarantee the development of the area where it is exploited and the obtaining of dollars. None of these things have been fulfilled 10 years after mining began. It’s all about marketing.
In the region of Neuquén, for example, although there is a lot of money and workers who receive salaries, which for others is very high, there is also a lot of inequality because all the prices are established on the basis of an oil salary and a teacher does receive that. Not to mention precarious people, so access to land, services, rent becomes impossible and inequalities become brutal.
– The extractivist model is deepening, what do you think will happen in the short and medium term?
– I dare not draw a clear horizon because the situation is one of great uncertainty and in Argentina it is amplified by the difficulties of the country’s politics and economy. There is a scientific consensus that says: we cannot exploit more hydrocarbons. The scientific team studying climate change is going to write its annual report and one of the main conclusions is that new deposits cannot be opened up and even those that are already there must be stopped so that climate change does not generate critical conditions.
On the other hand, there is a promotion of clean energies, we are critical of this conception. But solar or wind energy that has a series of problems that involve the extraction of natural resources to install and others. There is a kind of rhetoric that says we have to get out of fossil fuels to go towards solar panels and wind power. But, certainly, what is in the background is that our societies, as we know them, were sustained by an energy source of oil, gas and coal which enabled energy possibilities which have very unlikely to reappear in the future. You have to move towards a transition, you have to manage it because the change is going to happen, because the change is going to happen. We believe that this change must serve us to change the relationship we have with nature, the relationship between us and the way we constitute our societies.
Talking about energy transition, in part, involves upsetting a good part of our common sense. We are societies built on increasingly risky energies. Energy management is done by people, who consume. Latin American megacities are impossible without cars, the energy transition forces us to rethink society as a whole and how to make a fairer society in a context where there will surely be less access to energy.