Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has signed a nuclear energy cooperation deal with Argentina and hopes Russia could help the South American country explore its shale resources.
Putin, accompanied by energy minister Alexander Novak, has signed the deal during a trip to Latin America. According to Novak, Russia’s state-owned atomic energy company Rosatom has made an offer to tender for the construction of two new nuclear power units in Argentina.
Novak said Rosatom could offer "comfortable" financial terms to Argentina, which has struggled to advance its nuclear energy programme and lure foreign investors deterred by a raft of punishing capital and import controls.
"Rosatom is actively working here... and has already handed over its technical and commercial offer to our (Argentine) colleagues," Novak told reporters after talks between Putin and his Argentine counterpart, President Cristina Fernandez.
"There will be a tender this fall. Rosatom... is also ready to provide comfortable financial conditions (to Argentina)."
The Russian delegation is expected to visit the Vaca Muerta shale fields in the south of the country, thought to be one of the biggest shale reserves in the Western Hemisphere. It is believe Russia hopes to be chosen to help Argentina to tap its vast shale resources, which could double Argentina's energy output within a decade. However, the project is in the early stage of development.
Putin's visit comes as Argentina faces another debt crisis. The government has until 30 July to settle with "holdout" investors suing the government for full repayment of sovereign bonds on which Argentina defaulted in 2002.
Failure to do so risks prolonging Argentina's banishment from global capital markets at a time it needs financing to exploit huge shale gas and oil resources, develop its power grid and build new roads and ports to bolster grains exports.