ENAP becomes a major Pacific refinery; Magallanes unemployment remains steady; Torres del Paine Park temporarily closed.
ENAP becomes a major Pacific refinery
The Chilean government owned oil company ENAP announced the fusion of its two main refineries and the creation of a new company ENAP Refinerias S.A. concentrating all refining capacity becoming the main industry along the Pacific coast behind the US. The new structure means ENAP will be made up of, Enap Refinerías (crude refining); Emalco (products logistics) and Sipetrol S.A. (international oil exploration and production), plus the decreasing Magallanes based operation. "Fusion means improving competitiveness, cost reduction and bettering industrial and commercial activities which makes us the leading refining company along the Pacific coast (behind the Americans)", said Mr. Daniel Fernandez Enap's CEO. The operation means Enap will have beginning January 2004 a daily refining capacity of 220,000 barrels, annual sales of 2,8 billion US dollars and assets totalling 1,1 billion US dollars consolidating "our long term strategy of becoming leaders in the Pacific coast oil market". Mr. Fernández added that Enap currently have the highest Solomon standard (independent international benchmarking), meaning "we are very efficient because we optimize crude refining, we have the appropriate reservoirs, deposit capacity, terminal logistics, pipelines plus dynamic management of domestic and international demand". Enap's 2002/06 Strategic Business Plan which will be demanding 1,35 billion US dollars in investments includes consolidating the 85% share of the Chilean domestic fuel market, preferably from own sourcing; turning products distribution into an international operation capturing stable market niches; better refining structuring to enable processing heavier crude oil which is cheaper; overall quality improvement of products; reducing emission to comply with the new 2004 regulation dateline and having the lower costs of the region. The refining capacity consolidation follows Enaps' agreement with Exxon and Shell to supply Central America with exports expected to surpass 500 million US dollars. "The creation of the new refining company is one of the strong definitions of the Strategic Business Plan that should enable us to increase the company's value 50% by 2006", concluded Mr. Fernandez.
Magallanes unemployment remains steady Unemployment in Magallanes Region during the August-October Quarter remained steady at 7% according to the latest release from the Chilean Institute of Statistics. Bernardo Troncoso, regional Economy Ministry representative admitted the situation arguing that 2,360 people were incorporated to the labour force compared to a year ago. "The unemployment peak was 8% in the June-August quarter and if the 7% index hasn't dropped it's because the fish canning industry hasn't picked up yet", said Mr. Troncoso. Jose Gabriel Parada from the regional Statistics Office stated that those out of a job represent 6,3%, and those looking for work for the first time 0,7%. Unemployment in the city of Punta Arenas was 7,3%. The most dynamic sectors were: social, community and personal services; financial services, while the depressed manufacturing and construction. Compared to the same quarter a year ago, social, community and personal services together with retailing increased employment while manufacturing, transport and communications dropped. At national level unemployment in Chile in the August-October quarter actually dropped to 8,8%, the lowest since 1998. Chilean president described the situation as a "success" stressing that in the last twelve months 140,000 new jobs have been created in Chile, but "we must remember that the '98 and '99 crisis eliminated 160,000 jobs, so there's still much to do". The improved employment statistics follow a strong showing in manufacturing industry, 1,9% increase over October 2002 with 3,1% accumulated in the last twelve months. Mining grew 8,2% in the last twelve months and construction permits in the ten months of 2003 jumped 7,8% compared to similar period a year ago.
Torres del Paine Park temporarily closed The management of Torres del Paine national Park in the extreme south of Chile decided a temporary closure because of strong snow storms that put at risk tourist movement. The decision could be extended for the rest of the week if weather conditions remain unchanged. According to weather forecasts in the lower areas of the park rain and hail continue and higher in the mountain, paths were under a meter deep blanket of snow. Particularly serious is the John Garner pass that stands at 1,200 meters. Rocks and stones have been completely covered with snow making any emergency evacuation extremely difficult. Besides the main tour of the park, the "long circuit" which snakes for 80 miles along different camps and shelters has one of its main bridges damaged. Strong winds have bent the fifteen meters, twenty years old iron structure that spans acroos the river Los Perros. A patrol last October attempted to repair it but was unable to reach the bridge because of the adverse climatic conditions. Another attempt is scheduled during the first half of December if weather conditions improve.