An El Diario editorial over a very complex and pressing issue for our development:
Charcoal to exploit the Mutun?
Undeniably, we have contradictory attitudes to the country; for example, as known by the Government, as the population, that we need gas both for home use and for the industry, and the companies in charge of the Government using it; however, there is lack of product because it seems that it is hardly enough to cover the amounts committed to Argentina and Brazil.
With much fuss or demagoguery, announced several years ago that we had “considerable gas reserves” and “occupy the second place among the countries of South America”, that we have good reserves. Having passed so little time, the disappointments were large and unpleasant because it is said that the “preliminary” announcements had been wrong and that our reserves will only reach to comply with contracts of sale abroad and some remnants will serve for the industry, generation of electricity, etc.
The contracts with the Indian company Jindal Steel failed only by having failed the part that established the mandatory delivery of 10 million cubic meters of gas per day for the start-up of the Mutún iron foundry; but worse for the sins of those who offer and promise everything, there was no gas for the Jindal or, at most, it could be delivered around two and a half million cubic meters; of course, that quarter of what has been agreed could not meet the needs of the foundries.
Today, for its part, the steel Mutun company requires gas to melt the iron and, as there is none, they want to use charcoal, sacrificing the country’s forests; otherwise, it shall not be possible to comply with the State enterprise of iron. What is serious is that by giving gas to melt iron, it is necessary to burn, destroy, allow the desertification of soils, poison the environment destroying rich forests that the country has. The intention is, therefore, counterproductive and contrary to national interests because “you should not eat by sacrificing important parts of your own body”, quoting an old China saying.
Also (to complicate more the country?) it was said to import mineral coal, and as we don’t have it in Bolivia, we must spend our international reserves to fulfill a dream that had good prospects, but that was calculated “adrift”, false, possibly without any knowledge of truths which weigh today and which are simply concerning that we do not have gas; a fuel, in addition, that in a short time will not suffice to cover exports and much less for the use of vehicular transport and for home use.
The Government and the authorities of YPFB will have to be very clear about this case so difficult and worrisome, because the country is already tired of fanciful plans and promises that do not have any way to be realized.