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Monday, December 6th 2004 - 20:00 UTC
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Aerolíneas del Sur takes off this Monday; Record UVR in Punta Arenas; Chilean expedition researching in South Pole; Exploratory gas drilling in Tierra del Fuego; Local cellular phones in King George Island.

Aerolíneas del Sur takes off this Monday

Contrary to others, Aerolíneas del Sur "is here to remain and to grow", said Mark Thiermann, Pacific Feeder Services General Manager who will be representing the Spanish-Argentine consortium air carrier in Punta Arenas. "We'll be flying directly to and from Santiago, no other stops, and besides we have the support of Marsans International", added Mr. Thiermann. Aerolíneas del Sur is planning its first flight this Monday, December 6, leaving Punta Arenas for Santiago at 08:00 AM, with two daily frequencies. The Aerolíneas del Sur Boeing 737/200 Advanced arrived this Sunday in Punta Arenas with special guests, officials and tourist agents. The aircraft was officially baptized "Magallanes" by a Punta Arenas resident Margoth Duhalde, a pioneer of Chile aviation. December 24 Aerolíneas del Sur will begin flying to Iquique and in the following two months, Antofagasta and Puerto Montt. Pacific Feeder Services is a company with over ten years experience in the air cargo and passenger business and now represents among others, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aerolíneas del Sur, Cargolux Airlines, Aeroméxico Cargo, Aeromexpress and Korean Airlines. For seven years they worked with Dap Aerovías. "We still don't have the IATA code because of the delay in our flights authorizations, but we expect to have everything in order by next February", indicated Mr. Thiermann. Marsans International is a Spanish tourism organization which owns hotels, resorts and several airlines including a majority in Aerolíneas Argentinas. Sky Airlines another company planning to fly to Punta Arenas is scheduled to begin flights from Santiago next December 15.

Record UVR in Punta Arenas

For the first time this season in Punta Arenas the Magallanes University Ozone Laboratory recorded last Friday a 9 points Ultra Violet Rays, the highest so far and in spite of the fact it was a cloudy day. The most dangerous period of sun exposure was between 13:30 and 14:00 hours, when all the red light alerts in the city were on, although minimum exposure was also recommended between 12:15 and 15:15 hours. This means that during that three hours periods it is highly recommendable to wear a hat, long sleeves, trousers, sun glasses and some strong sun tan renewable every two hours. Besides all outside activity, including sports should be avoided, even during cloudy or windy days. In previous days the UVR index had ranged between 6 and 8, but on Friday it reached which is considered highly dangerous if exposed to the sun. Ozone concentration was 285 Dobbs units which is considered quiet low. The ozone layer which helps filter ultra violet rays for decades has been affected by man industrial contamination and has consequently thinned. This is particularly serious in the Southern hemisphere between August and December when because of the Earth's rotation the thinnest part of the ozone layer covers most of Antarctica and Patagonia, exposing life to a higher than normal concentration of UVR.

Chilean expedition researching in South Pole

The first land Chilean expedition to reach the South Pole is currently in the US Antarctic base Amundsen-Scott. The expedition which was jointly financed and organized by Chilean research centres, University scientific Departments and the Armed Forces is made up of twelve Chileans and a Brazilian and under the command of an Army Lieutenant Colonel. Apparently the fifteen days crossing from Patriot Hills was slower than predicted because of snow dunes or "sartrugis". However the return is scheduled to take at least twenty days because of several experiments and tests to be collected during the trip. During the five days next to the geographical South Pole scientists extracted ice samples and drilled fifty meters for further research. During the incoming 1,140 kilometres trip, the team took recordings of radar positioning, gravity, geology, snow conditions every twenty kilometres and Chilean military engineers collected data for charting the area which remains mostly unexplored or lacking proper maps.

Exploratory gas drilling in Tierra del Fuego

In the three and a half months time Chile's oil government company, ENAP, will have the interpretation of the 3D seismic surveying data collected in the Mercedes Lake, Chilean Tierra del Fuego. The 3D survey was undertaken by Veritas Geophysical Chile, a local branch of a US company, and covered 98% of the area chosen for the survey. The second stage is to have all the data analyzed by an Argentine company. "We should have all the analyzed organization in sixty days, and a month later our people in ENAP will be able to determine where to drill an exploratory well with good prospects of finding natural gas", said Danilo Martic, Exploration and Production Manager of ENAP Magallanes. This is the first step of ENAP in its change of policy in the area which is leaving oil and concentrating in natural gas. "The area has been exploited in the past but we must ensure commercial volumes to proceed with further investments", explained Mr. Martic. "The 3D seismic surveying and data analysis demanded almost 4,5 million US dollars. Drilling an exploratory well, we're talking of 13 million US dollars", added Mr. Martic. Apparently if everything works out as expected by April 2005, ENAP will have located where to drill and should actually begin working in the well August 2005.

Local cellular phones in King George Island

The Chilean committee for the Antarctic Environmental Impact Assessment, Conaeia, approved last week a project from the Chilean telecommunications company ENTEL for the establishment of a cellular phone system in King George Island, reports La Prensa Austral from Punta Arenas. The initiative anticipates setting up an antenna which would cover all the Fildes Bay area, including the Chilean village of Las Estrellas, the Chilean Antarctic Institute base Professor Julio Escudero, the air strip Teniente Marsh and the President Eduardo Frei base. The service could also be extended to other bases in the area belonging to the Russians, Argentines, Koreans and Uruguayans, as well as visiting scientists and tourists. It has not been decided to take advantage of an abandoned antenna in the area or build a completely new structure. La Prensa Austral also reports that during its latest meeting Conaeia approved a project from Aerovías Dap to transport to Antarctica people interested in skiing as well as Antarctic Dreams request for regular cruises. Conaeia members are scheduled to fly to Antarctica this week to check the building of an aircraft parking area in Teniente Marsh airstrip.

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