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Breaking News from Pta. Arenas.

Monday, December 27th 2004 - 20:00 UTC
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Breaking News:
US dollar 560/570 Pesos in Punta Arenas; Improved air service support for cruise industry; Tapping natural gas deposits in Magallanes.

US dollar 560/570 Pesos in Punta Arenas

The US dollar dropped even further in Chile accumulating a 2,29% depreciation in the last week. The Santiago inter-bank market closed at 561/562 Chilean pesos to the US dollars. In Punta Arenas local money exchange houses were paying 560 Chilean pesos to the US dollar and selling the greenback for 568/570 pesos, the lowest since last January. According to Pedro Puratic, owner of Sur Cambios, the volatility of the US dollar is influenced by the Iraq war, "which has made the Euro gain strength vis-à-vis the US dollar", besides the significant drop in international oil prices. Mr. Puratic also recommended travellers who are planning to visit Europe to buy Euros locally because "commissions are high particularly when selling US dollars for Euros in the continent". Last week the Euro broke the benchmark of 1,35 US dollars and analysts, following the latest discouraging news about the US economy, forecast 1,40 US dollars and probably 1,50 before the US currency begins to recover. The Euro exchange rate in Punta Arenas is 740/760 Chilean pesos.

Improved air service support for cruise industry

The 2004/05 cruise season is facing a positive scenario in Punta Arenas given the increased air service to Southern Chile following the inauguration of Aerolíneas del Sur and Sky Airlines daily flights. Cristian Aguilera, president of the Maritime Chamber, chapter Punta Arenas pointed out that the cruise industry needs a logistic support involving equipment, spares and other items which "has been significantly increased with the new airlines". Contrary to what happened before that orders needed certain anticipation, "which were quite stressing for cruise operators, this year they should feel relieved". The new air service provision should favour crew and staff turnover, and at a lower cost, "with fares to Santiago in the range of 200 US dollars or less", added Mr. Aguilera.

Tapping natural gas deposits in Magallanes

ENAP, the Chilean government owned oil company will be investing over 41 million US dollars in natural gas exploration and infrastructure in Magallanes Region while advancing internationally in Africa and South America. Manuel Sanchez Ceballos, ENAP Exploration and Production Manager spends most of his time in Magallanes and overseas where the company's international affiliate Sipetrol is searching for oil in Libya and Egypt, and in Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina. "We're reviewing the Magallanes basin in search of commercial natural gas deposits. So far we have concentrated in the Mercedes Lake, Tierra del Fuego, with 3D seismic surveying technology and will begin exploratory wells in the first half of 2005", indicated Mr. Sanchez Ceballos in an interview with La Prensa Austral. Magallanes is a "complex basin and we're now looking for resources above and below the oil extraction area, mainly searching for natural gas", added the ENAP manager. Mr. Sanchez Ceballos revealed that the overseas experience and acquired technology of ENAP has been vital for the re-dimensioning of what was once Chile's main source of hydrocarbons. "Our activity is dynamic, changes are constantly happening, and with our overseas experience and new technologies we're reviewing promising or abandoned areas, which we're planning to address next year because they are rather accessible". Further on Mr. Sanchez Ceballos said the company has budgeted 41 million US dollars for exploration and infrastructure in Magallanes but will also be surveying other gas deposit areas in Arauco and Valdivia which the energy crisis and technological advances have turned into potentially promising. Regarding Sipetrol, Enap overseas enterprise Mr. Sanchez Ceballos said daily production stands at 31,000 barrels and growing, recalling that during Magallanes peak, local production was 41,000 bpd. "One of the most interesting experiences is in Ecuador where we're doing a great job, new province, we have a respected name and the contract is most convenient for the local government and for us", underlined Mr. Sanchez Ceballos. Regarding Argentina Mr. Sanchez Ceballos was not enthusiastic, "the oil industry is in crisis, there are few incentives for investment and most basins are mature".

Categories: Mercosur.

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