The UK is scheming to invest in Argentina’s problematic oil shale industry using a £1bn export finance deal intended to help green energy, according to government data seen by the Guardian.
UK Export Finance, the government’s foreign credit agency, pledged in 2017 to offer loans totaling £1bn to assist UK companies in exporting their expertise in “infrastructure, green energy, and healthcare” to put money into in Argentina’s economy.
Instead, official data, released through a freedom of data requested, have unveiled the government’s plan to prioritize support for major oil companies, inclusive of Shell and BP, which are fracking in Argentina’s vast Vaca Muerta shale heartlands. One government memo, uncovered by Friends of the Earth, stated that while Argentina’s clean energy section was growing, it was “Argentina’s huge shale resources that offer the biggest potential” for the UK.
The briefing note was prepared before an important meeting between the UK government’s market envoy to Latin America, the UK ambassador to Argentina, and Argentina’s energy minister in February this year. Tony Bosworth, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, stated: “With the world hurtling towards disastrous climate change, and parliament declaring a climate emergency, it’s outrageous that the UK government is continuing to back large fossil fuel developments abroad.”
Separate data, also uncovered by Friends of the Earth, showed that there had been no fewer than 13 meetings between the UK and oil companies operating in Argentina’s Vaca Muerta hydrocarbon reservoir since the start of last year.
The companies are inclusive of Shell, Andina Resources, Phoenix Global Resources, and Pan American Energy (PAE), a branch of BP.