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‘We beg God for water’: Chilean lake turns to desert, sounding climate change alarm

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18/18

© Reuters. A dead fish lies on the dried-up Penuelas lake in Valparaiso, Chile April 19, 2022. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

2/18

By Alexander Villegas and Rodrigo Gutierrez

PENUELAS, Chile (Reuters) – The Penuelas reservoir in central Chile was until twenty years ago the main source of water for the city of Valparaiso, holding enough water for 38,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. Water for only two pools now remains.

A huge expanse of dried and cracked earth that was once the lake bed is littered with fish skeletons and desperate animals searching for water.

Amid an historic 13-year drought, rainfall levels have slumped in this South American nation that hugs the continent’s Pacific coast. Higher air temperatures have meant snow in the Andes, once a key store of meltwater for spring and summer, is not compacting, melts faster, or turns straight to vapor.

The drought has hit mine output in the world’s largest copper producer, stoked tensions over water use for lithium and farming, and led capital Santiago to make unprecedented plans for potential water rationing.

“We have to beg God to send us water,” said Amanda Carrasco, a 54-year-old who lives near the Penuelas reservoir and recalls line fishing in the waters for local pejerrey fish. “I’ve never seen it like this. There’s been less water before, but not like now.”

The reservoir needs rainfall – once reliable in winter but now at historic lows, said Jose Luis Murillo, general manager of ESVAL, the company that supplies Valparaiso with water.

“Basically what we have is just a puddle,” he said, adding that the city now relied on rivers. “This is especially significant if you think that several decades ago the Penuelas reservoir was the only source of water for all greater Valparaiso.”

Behind the issue, academic studies have found, is a global shift in climate patterns sharpening natural weather cycles.

Normally, low-pressure storms from the Pacific unload precipitation over Chile in winter, recharging aquifers and packing the Andes mountains with snow.

But naturally occurring warming of the sea off Chile’s coast, which blocks storms from arriving, has been intensified by rising global sea temperature, according to a global study https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/doi/10.7916/D8V12DD7 on sea temperature and rainfall deficits. Ozone depletion and greenhouse gasses in the Antarctic, meanwhile, exacerbate weather patterns that draw storms away from Chile, according to a study https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/clim/19/12/jcli3774.1.xml on variables affecting Antarctic weather.

‘WATER TOWERS’

Analysis of tree rings going back 400 years shows how rare the current drought is, said Duncan Christie, a researcher at the Center for Climate and Resilience in Chile. It is totally unrivalled for duration or intensity.

He said that meant the Andes – which he called the country’s “water towers” – were not getting a chance to replenish, which in turn meant that as snow melted in spring there was far less water to fill rivers, reservoirs and aquifers.

Miguel Lagos, a civil engineer and water specialist, traveled to measure snow cover near the Laguna Negra station in central Chile some 50 kilometers (31 miles) east of Santiago – part of a process to estimate summer water supply.

“There was just nothing,” he told Reuters. “There were so few precipitation events and such warm conditions that the snow melted that same winter.”

As snow compacts, creating new layers, this helps keep it colder for longer. But with warmer weather and less snowfall, Lagos said, top layers of snow were melting faster or turning straight to vapor, a process called sublimation.

A 2019 study http://dgf.uchile.cl/rene/PUBS/MD_dynamics.pdf in the International Journal of Climatology that analyzed Chile’s drought from 2010 to 2018 said shifting weather events could ease the drought in future, but much would depend on the trajectory of human emissions impacting climate.

Segundo Aballay, an animal breeder in the Chilean village of Montenegro, is praying change comes soon.

“If it doesn’t rain this year we will be left with nothing to do,” he said. “The animals are getting weaker and dying day by day.”

Unfortunately for agriculture workers like Aballay, researchers at the University of Chile predict the country will have 30% less water over the next 30 years, based on mathematical models and historic data.

“What we call a drought today will become normal,” Lagos said.

In the Laguna de Aculeo, another dried up lake south of Santiago, local campsite manager Francisco Martinez recalled hundreds of people coming to the area to take out kayaks or swim in the waters.

Now rusting piers and old boats sit in the barren landscape. An eerie island in the middle of what was once water rises up above the dust.

“Now there is no water, it is a desert here,” Martinez told Reuters. “The animals are dying and there is nothing to do here in the lagoon any more.”

Commodities

Bypassing sanctions by the EU is included in the list of criminal offenses in the EU

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sanctions by EU

Bypassing European sanctions is included in the list of criminal offenses in the EUThe EU Council decided on Monday to include violations of EU sanctions in the list of criminal “offenses in the EU”.

“The EU has adopted an unprecedented European sanctions list targeting Russia’s economy (…). Their implementation requires joint efforts to achieve results, and today’s decision is an important tool to ensure that any attempts to circumvent these measures will be stopped,” said Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blazek, who holds the EU Council Presidency, as quoted in a communiqué published in Brussels.

Member states currently have different definitions of what is a violation of restrictive measures and what penalties should be imposed in the event of a violation, the document noted. “This could lead to varying degrees of sanctions and the risk of circumvention of these measures, potentially allowing sanctioned individuals to continue accessing their assets and supporting regimes against which EU measures are in effect,” the EU Council communiqué said.

It explains that listing violations of restrictive measures as “crimes in the EU” is the first of two steps aimed at making sure that sanctions are applied equally across the EU and deterring attempts to circumvent or violate EU measures.

This draft directive, Brussels reminds us, must then be discussed and adopted by the European Parliament and the EU Council.

Earlier we reported that the U.S. had decided to extract crude oil in Venezuela.

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The U.S. has decided to produce crude oil in Venezuela

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crude oil in Venezuela

The U.S. wants to give the U.S. Chevron Corp., one of the largest oil companies in the country, a license to produce crude oil in Venezuela, according to The Wall Street Journal.

There will be new American oil executives in Venezuela. This is a signal of easing sanctions against the country, the newspaper said. Chevron has decided to regain partial control over oil production in Venezuela’s fields, in which the company paid a share due to joint ventures with Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

Talk of new investment is not yetunderway, because the debts to Chevron are not repaid. This may take several years, the sources say.

In July, Diosdado Cabello, leader of the parliamentary faction and vice president of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), accused the U.S. of attacks on the country’s oil facilities. Venezuela has been under U.S. oil sanctions since 2019. In June of this year, the State Department allowed Italian Eni and Spanish Repsol to supply oil from Venezuela to Europe.

Earlier we reported that more than 50% of Germans said they refused to buy new clothes and electronics.

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Bloomberg: UAE to boost oil production beyond plan by 2025

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UAE to boost oil production

UAE to boost oil production. One of Russia’s main competitors for oil exports plans to reach five million barrels per day by 2025. The Middle Eastern country was initially expected to reach this level only by 2030, Bloomberg reported, citing sources.

“Energy concern Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (Adnoc), which produces almost all of the UAE’s oil, wants to be able to produce 5 million barrels a day by 2025. The company planned to reach such a level only by 2030,” – says the material.

But a crude oil production boost will be difficult without additional financing for expenses for the project. Adnoc explained the acceleration of production increase by the policy of the leading countries of the world on accelerated energy transition to renewable energy sources (RES).

“As we embrace the energy transition and focus our business on the future, we will continue to explore potential opportunities that can further add value, free up capital and improve profitability,” the Arab oil company said.

To realize the goal, Adnoc has asked international companies that are partners in its oil fields to increase long-term crude production by 10% or more, sources said. In the case of positive results of the negotiations, the UAE will be able to significantly increase the volume of oil production by 2025, concludes Bloomberg.

On September 19, the Times of India, citing sources in the Indian Ministry of Commerce, reported that the Asian country has saved since February 2022, $439.7 million on imports from Russia of oil at a discount. A total of about 62.5 million barrels of Russian crude were purchased by Indian state and private companies over the last six months. Moreover, volumes of imports have increased many times over as compared to 2021.

Earlier, we reported that Nigeria stopped benefiting from the sale of Nigerian oil due to the lack of dollars.

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