By José Rigane
On December 13 Argentina celebrates its National Oil Day. We emphasize on the word “national”, because there resides the key to understand and celebrate this historic date. On 12/13/1907 the first well of Argentine crude oil was discovered in Patagonia. In that political and scientific context this finding was understood as a platform for national and industrial development, with such a degree of understanding of what was at stake for the country that shortly after it played a key role in the state management of energy goods and in the creation, among other strategic companies, of Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF).
Today we are in a different context. With an energy model dominated by transnational companies and by the governments of the great hegemonic powers and their local agents, the announcements of new wells and extracting reports -very much promoted by the increasingly large media coalition (the usual ones and the new ones directly financed by oil companies themselves) analyze the quantity of barrels, the new explorations and discoveries, without rendering account for what, for whom and in accordance with which model of society are these extractions of hydrocarbons made in our country.
Today in Argentina, the total extraction and production of hydrocarbons is done through private companies. Even the new YPF (with 51% of state shares), behaves like the worst of transnationals.
Private oil companies decide everything that has to do with hydrocarbons in our country based on their own interests, their own profits. They design the energy model that suits them best and the corporate profitability appears as the only objective to achieve.
Now this model will also try to deepen job insecurity. One of the crudest examples is the collective agreement that the Macri government promoted for the Vaca Muerta oil workers.
Today in Argentina companies continue taking their profits out of the country and leave social and environmental disasters inside.
The government of Macri and neoliberalism in general wish to continue with this model, which we, from FeTERA and the CTA Autónoma, have been denouncing. We believe that it is fundamental to change the energy model and abandon dependence on private companies. We believe that a different energy model can be developed, in which the strategic value of oil and gas (and of energy in general) is decided by the people and aimed at guaranteeing access to everybody. This, under the idea that everyone should have a decent life.
We need to transform the current energy model for a model based on energy as a human right.
These days, when the accent is put on corporate profit instead of on popular welfare, when the value in the stock market is worth more than the ability to decide on strategic resources, when the private companies’ voracity is above sustainable environmental management, we continue to remember December 13 as the date that started a path of sovereignty which we must take up again.
December 13, 2018.