The dirt road to the Mejillones LNG terminal intersects a railway track in the middle of nowhere. The landscape reminds Mars more than Earth. Why would one build a gas import facility here ? Well, for the world’s biggest copper mine, a few hours drive away.
The jetty stretches into the Pacific as an invitation to set sail. But one LNG tanker is idle, moored as a Floating Storage Unit (FSU). We walk to the gangway, climb onboard and meet the Master, a Norwegian captain. His vessel is merely 1 year old but is now cluttered with mussels, colonized by sea otters and surrounded by giant jellyfish. Not exactly a sailor’s dream…
Copper is vital to Chile’s economy. Not far from here, a team of miners is trapped 700 meters underground in the San Jose copper mine. The 33 are still alive, after two months. LNG needed for copper; copper needed for cell phones; cell phones needed for, in my case, buy more LNG.
Minutes before I board my plane at SCL, I am watching live the first miner being winched to the surface. By the time I land at CDG, the last of the 33 reaches the open air. Watching this man resurrecting from a coffin-like metal cylinder, I suddenly feel that my jetlag will be quite supportable.