Argentina reactivates Petrel base in Antarctica | Polarjournal
The Petrel base was commissioned in 1967 and abandoned in 1996. The station is now to be reactivated. (Photo: Fuerzas Armadas de la República Argentina)

Argentine Defense Minister Jorge Taiana announced on December 13 that the Petrel Base at the northern end of the Antarctic Peninsula would be reactivated. “One goal this year is to rebuild and repair the Petrel base, which will be a year-round operating base in the future. Petrel offers very favorable conditions of strategic importance due to its location.”

Petrel Base is located on Dundee Island, at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula region and 1,357 from Ushuaia. (Photo: Fuerzas Armadas de la República Argentina)

Petrel Base is an Argentine research station located on Dundee Island. After its commissioning on 22 February 1967, it was operated year-round until 1978 and then as a summer station. In the 1995/96 Antarctic season, Petrel base was finally abandoned. The buildings of the station are 18 meters above sea level and the subsoil consists of volcanic rock. The nearest Argentine base, Esperanza Station in Hope Bay is 37 kilometers away. The nearest port, Ushuaia, is 1,357 kilometres away.

Jorge Taiana further stated, “The decision to reopen the Petrel base will provide a greater presence and better scientific development, which is key for future generations of our country.”

There are several Argentine research stations on the Antarctic Peninsula. Red dots are stations occupied year-round, green are stations open only in summer.

Adolfo Humarán, head of the Petrel Base project, said, “Back in 2013, a plan was drawn up to reactivate the Petrel Base as a permanent logistics centre on the Antarctic continent.”

“When the resolution was released, we started going to Petrel Base every summer to do small jobs. This involved making repairs around the house and bringing in some appliances and disposing of old garbage.”

“As of November 2022, Petrel will once again become a permanent base. Already a team of 18 people arrived to carry out the necessary work to restore the infrastructure throughout the year. It makes it easier to know what the requirements are for next year,” he recalled.

Since 2013, repair work has been carried out on the old petrel base and old rubbish has been disposed of. (Photo: Fuerzas Armadas de la República Argentina)

“Another goal is to build a 1,800-meter main runway and a 1,300-meter secondary runway where the Hercules C-130, or smaller aircraft can operate. In addition, this year we will carry out hydrographic studies there to determine the most suitable location for the construction of a dock that will allow operations with shiploads,” explained Adolfo Humarán.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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