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    Government announces that the bill to promote hydrogen is "ready".

    May 19, 2023 - CE Noticias Financieras


      The halt to a multi-million dollar investment by a foreign company for green hydrogen was the focus of a forum organized by the province of Rio Negro. During most of the day, executives, experts and diplomats chewed their anger for certainofficial inaction to promote the sector. The Secretary of Energy, Flavia Royón, arrived at 5 p.m. to try to calm the waters: "the bill (to promote the sector) finished its administrative circuit and is finished", she said in front of an auditorium in a large hall of the Llao-Llao.

      "The Minister of Economy -Sergio Massa- said that the bill will be sent to Congress, so I believe the Minister", Royón later told Clarín.

      The government of Río Negro organized a forum dedicated to this novel energy, which is obtained through plants and the use of water, which separate hydrogen from oxygen with a method called electrolysis. There were criticisms to the official paralysis to advance in regulatory matters of this sector. Everything loosened up in the face of Royón's announcement.

      "This hydrogen development project has concluded at the administrative level and in the next few days it will be sent to the Presidency," said Royón on a stage he shared with Arabela Carreras, the governor of Río Negro. "It was the predominant theme in all the previous panels," Carreras told her, as if the national government official had not known that. Officials from the Energy Secretariat attended the previous panels and participated in the informal exchanges that took place.

      "We were all waiting for this. How good that this is already agreed upon," Carreras returned to her on the stage where Royón was presenting. "We would like to know the text, especially if the president is about to send it to Congress," she added.

      But Royón never mentioned the president or his times. When Clarín asked him if the President had this law in his legislative agenda, he answered that "Sergio (Massa) told me that it is going to be sent to Congress, so I believe Sergio".

      Royón read some paragraphs of the bill, and enunciated the main concepts, such as "fiscal stability for 30 years" and "a guarantee of free access to the free foreign exchange market".

      President Alberto Fernandez told Congress that he wanted to move forward with investments in "green" hydrogen. He did so on two occasions, at the opening of the 2022 and 2023 legislative sessions. But he never sent legislation on the matter.

      Australia's Fortescue had a project under study to disburse US$ 8.4 billion in a green hydrogen development in Rio Negro. As Argentina did not advance in a law to encourage investments in the sector, Fortescue stepped on the accelerator in Brazil and put its Rio Negro adventure on hold, as Clarín reported. It was for not having a law with its regulatory framework.

      The global forum on Green Hydrogen gathered executives, experts, politicians and academics at the Llao-Llao Hotel in Bariloche.

      "The province (Río Negro) will always be available for the national Executive Power -whatever color it may be- to advance in green hydrogen", say provincial officials.

      The lack of a law, and Fortescue's reluctance to announce new investments, were the almost exclusive topics that dominated the conversation in the corridors of the forum, since it started on Thursday morning. When Royón arrived at the event, almost at 5 p.m., he pretended not to know that the Government's dalliances had dominated the previous panels and the attendees' dialogues.

      "We are not leaving," Fortescue stressed, "The project is in a pre-feasibility stage (something that started in 2021). In order to advance to the next stages of the project, it is key to have a regulatory framework that defines the basis for the development of this industry in Argentina", explained the company in a statement.

      The Australian ambassador, Edward Twisk, explained the keys for the development of the energy industry in his country. That territory is one of the largest exporters of LNG. "The jurisdiction (the place where a company operates) has to target the development of the industry to get investment," he said, in a criticism of official policy.

      According to Fortescue, the law must guarantee "access to financing at internationally competitive costs; free availability of foreign currency for debt payment and creditors abroad; a favorable tax regime; financial and fiscal stability; coexistence between the Hydrogen and Free Trade Zone Promotion Law and the expansion of the national electricity system." Royón read some of these points in his public presentation.


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