Gendarmería Nacional will guard Vaca Muerta: it is considered a “strategic target”

The resolution was published on Tuesday on the Official Gazette. The decision comes after the refinery attack on Saudi Arabia on Friday. Last June, there were at site shooting clashes between different groups of the labor union.

In 2015 FERMA S.A. made the cell for the stockpiling of sands. These sands are classified and collected in bulk for YPF company at the Añelo complex, province of Neuquén. This cell has an area of 8000 m2, 24 meters high and a total weight of 400 tons.

The government reported that the National Gendarmerie will be responsible for guarding the unconventional oil and gas field of Vaca Muerta. The decision was published Tuesday on the Official Gazette, and is known at a time when the world of oil is shocked by the attack to a refinery in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

According to sources from the Ministry of Security, the decision was taken after considering Vaca Muerta as a “strategic resource, such as nuclear power plants”. According to that official, the decision had been made several months ago, and buildings were even built there to house the security forces that will arrive at the area.

A ministry statement said: «The Ministry of National Security reports that the extension of the jurisdiction of Gendarmería Nacional will be notified, which will now also participate in the security of the geological formation of Vaca Muerta».

“From the point of view of this Ministry, which Patricia Bullrich directs, it is essential to provide physical protection to the facilities of the Hydrocarbon Exploitation Plants located in the Neuquén Watershed, more precisely in Vaca Muerta, with the objective of ensuring vital economic interests of the National State”, it adds.

“The unconventional oil and gas reservoir that extends into the mentioned basin constitutes an asset of vital importance for the National State’s energy and economic growth strategy. This assigns a preponderant value to the area, whose development must be protected through measures that guarantee safety for all and for the assets that are indispensable for the fulfillment of the objective”, it continues.

And concludes: «That is why this Ministry of Security decided to extend the jurisdiction of Gendarmería Nacional within the geographical space of the geological formation Vaca Muerta, which includes the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, La Pampa and Mendoza.»

It is estimated that the oil and gas activity of the three provinces that are on the site, considered the second most important on the planet, employs about 30 thousand people. Approximately 20,000 work in the Neuquén province.

Between 2013 and 2018, just over USD 19,000 million have been invested in Vaca Muerta and around USD 11 billion more was projected between 2019 and 2020, according to Abeceb.

In January of this year, the agreement between the oil workers, the companies of the sector and the government was signed to zero trade union conflicts affecting production.

One of the security issues affecting the site are the claims of the Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén and the Campo Maripe family, among others that claim ancestral rights in areas rich in hydrocarbons.

When the agreement between YPF/Chevron and the province of Neuquén was known in July 2013 for the exploitation of Vaca Muerta during the Cristina Fernández administration, members of the Mapuche Confederation took four drilling equipment.

Also in July 2016, members of the Campo Maripe family prevented fracking equipment from entering an area operated by YPF.
In June 2017, once again members of the Campo Maripe and the Mapuche Confederation blocked the way to the exploitation area in Bajada Añelo and Loma Campana, affecting more than 12 equipment.

In the last three years there has also been a fire in a car dealership in Neuquén capital, in addition to attempts at explosive attacks in wells from the towns of Centenario and Fernández Oro. In all cases, pamphlets with slogans of Mapuche Ancestral Resistance (RAM) were found. RAM is a radicalized group founded by Facundo Jones Huala today imprisoned in Chile.

Union fights also escalated in the region. In June of this year, there was a shooting confrontation at a deposit that ended with seven people injured and for which a UOCRA union leader was arrested.