UK to use £1bn meant for green energy to support fracking in Argentina

Fracking has already caused irreversible damage to the ancestral homeland of indigenous Mapuche. Photograph: Uki Goni/The Guardian

The UK is planning to invest in Argentina’s controversial oil shale industry using a £1bn export finance deal intended to support green energy, according to government documents seen by the Guardian.

UK Export Finance, the government’s foreign credit agency, promised in 2017 to offer loans totalling £1bn to help UK companies export their expertise in “infrastructure, green energy and healthcare” to invest in Argentina’s economy.

Instead official records, released through a freedom of information request, have revealed the government’s plan to prioritise support for major oil companies, including Shell and BP, which are fracking in Argentina’s vast Vaca Muerta shale heartlands.

One government memo, uncovered by Friends of the Earth, said that while Argentina’s clean energy sector was growing, it was “Argentina’s huge shale resources that offer the greatest potential” for the UK.

Argentina has become a magnet for major oil companies after discovering the world’s third largest shale reserves in the world. It hopes to replicate the US energy revolution by encouraging oil companies to exploit the reserves within the Vaca Muerta region despite strong opposition from local communities.

Argentina delivered its first-ever export of light crude and liquified natural gas from Vaca Muerta earlier this summer, five years after local community protest was quashed by authorities using teargas and rubber bullets.

The government’s plan to support Argentina’s shale industry comes after an investigation revealed an eleven-fold increase in support for fossil fuels over the past year to almost £2bn.

The plans are strongly opposed by MPs on the environmental audit committee, which branded the UK’s foreign fossil fuel investments as the “elephant in the room” undermining the UK’s climate leadership.

Source: The Guardian newspaper.

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