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Brazilians elected far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro as the country’s president in a runoff vote held on Oct. 28. During the campaign, the president of his party, Gustavo Bebianno, said the candidate had no plans to privatize Petrobras in
the short term.
Will Brazil’s New President Shake Up the Energy Sector?
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Jacqueline Sanchez Pando, Energy & Sustainability Policy Associate at the Institute of the Americas is currently participating in the Women Empowerment in Renewable Energy Program developed by the US Department of Energy and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
The program’s objectives are to support participants to expand their knowledge and skills in the renewable energy sector (i.e. technology, markets, policies, economic and social dimensions); to further their understanding of the energy-women nexus & the possible link to energy poverty; and to expand their professional network to other regions of the world.
The aforementioned program initially hosted a group of 50 female executives, government officials, and academia in their mid-career in the field from APEC’s 21 economies.
Jacqueline and a group of fifteen fellow participants have been nominated to attend the one-week face-to face training in APEC HQ in Singapore to take place in late Oct. early November. The training will bring policy, gender and business experts to widen participants learning of social, gender and environmental co-benefits of renewable energy developments. It will take place during Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW).
Continuing a discussion begun in 2015 on the key elements facing the energy sector in Argentina, the Institute of the Americas convened an Energy Roundtable on March 21 in Buenos Aires.
The Roundtable counted three high-level discussion panels and was attended by over 75 representatives from industry, government, and academia. The panels at the Roundtable featured optimistic and robust discussion of Argentina’s energy sector, but particularly the structural adjustments and reforms enacted by the Macri administration.
The efforts to “normalize” the sector are beginning to pay dividends with an improved fiscal outlook and institutional and market credibility. A series of regional integration projects and energy exchanges with neighboring countries, ones that were but dots and lines on a power point slide just 2-3 years ago, are now a reality.
But amid the optimism and positive outlook, there were words of caution. Of greatest concern for all segments of the energy sector are the impacts of stubbornly high costs and inflation, elements that have and will continue to impede competitiveness but particularly the development of the highly-touted Vaca Muerta unconventional play in the country.
Beyond managing labor costs, the topic of how to boost a more competitive oil and gas sector focused on the need to greatly expand not just the number and capabilities of service and equipment providers, but also to exponentially increase the amount of operators in the country’s oil patch. One panelist persuasively argued that an increase on the order of ten times the current number of market participants is required to develop a competitive oil and gas ecosystem; a growth in not just majors, but all manner of companies and expertise.
The profound transformation of the global energy sector is clearly being felt in Argentina panelists concurred. Indeed, the country’s renewable energy auctions were oversubscribed and highlighted as an important step. However, panelists tended to agree that the adoption of key tenets of the energy transition are moving slowly with deployment of renewables hindered by financing and the country’s boom-bust and default legacy, while significant advances on storage and electrification of the transport sector seem farther off in Argentina.
Mexico’s energy reforms have brought a major overhaul of the nation’s entire energy sector. Among the myriad changes being implemented, major opportunities have emerged with regards to Mexico’s fuels and liquids market, as well as infrastructure development associated with fuel sales, supply, storage and distribution. Mexico’s fuels market is the fourth largest in the world and has experienced considerable growth in the last several years making it attractive to a wide-range of companies and investors. Growth is driven by transportation, power demand and underpinned by strong population growth.
Last year saw several deregulation milestones met on the path toward a liberalized fuel market, as well as important advances in open seasons aimed at ultimately boosting related infrastructure, both in liquid fuels and natural gas. In what has become a rapidly changing market, a growing list of international companies, traders and Mexican firms have begun to develop projects with an eye to establishing themselves in Mexico’s fuel and liquids business.
This “complex transition” was at the center of three high-level discussion panels hosted by the Institute of the Americas on February 27 in Mexico City and attended by over 90 representatives from industry, government, and academia.
Panelists generally agreed that development of the fuel market was on the right track and that the reform measures had boosted investment in energy infrastructure. The proliferation of new market players (40 brands as of this week) in the fuel retail market and the choices being created for consumers is important.
But, there was less consensus on whether Mexico would soon see a truly competitive fuels market that could fully serve the growing demand in Mexico and its citizens, not to mention what the key next steps should be before the July elections. In an interesting development, several speakers put on the table the need for further energy reform in Mexico. Panelists also argued that government and industry alike must continue to aim for efficiency, continuity, stability and long-term regulatory certainty.
Event Summary: The Trump Administration, Latin America and Energy: Mexico, Natural Gas and LNG Exports
Energy continues to be a bright spot in the US-Latin America relationship and new developments, like an uptick in US LNG exports, offer opportunities to increase energy security and cooperation across the Western Hemisphere, said panelists at an event co-hosted by the Inter-American Dialogue and Institute of the Americas on December 15th.
Energy plays a central role in bilateral and trilateral cooperation with Mexico and Canada. The United States is working to expand this cooperation through increased data sharing for cross-border transmission, generation, and renewable energy mapping, as well as through technology sharing for carbon capture and storage, noted Department of Energy Deputy Assistant Secretary Beth Urbanas.
The three countries work on energy issues both trilaterally and through larger multilateral efforts like APEC and the G20. Mexico also recently joined the International Energy Agency and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), providing two additional avenues for cooperation. Mexico joining NERC benefits both Mexico and the United States, noted Mark Nelson, regional vice president and director of issues management at Sempra, as Mexico can help provide system reliability and voltage support to the United States in times of energy distress.
Investment by US companies in Mexico following its energy reformhas also strengthened bilateral energy ties. Oil majors are entering the downstream space in Mexico, even though they are largely divesting from those assets in other countries, said Carlos Sole, partner and Latin America practice co-chair at Baker Botts.
A recent uptick in US natural gas exports represents another significant opportunity for US-Latin America energy trade and investment, said John McCarrick, deputy assistant secretary at the Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources. LNG exports – which began in earnest just last year – reached 465 billion cubic feet in the first 9 months of 2017, already 2.5 times greater than total 2016 LNG export volumes. LNG exports are projected to reach 4.4 trillion cubic feet by 2035.
At the same time, Latin America is increasing its capacity to receive LNG. Regasification capacity in the Americas, excluding the United States and Canada, will reach 50 million tons in the next few years, said Leslie Palti-Guzman, director of global gas at Rapidan Energy Group. Central America and the Caribbean alone will account for 8 million tons of this regasification capacity, and will be a significant growth opportunity for US LNG exporters.
These terminals may see low utilization rates, however, as LNG is used more as a backup fuel in Latin America. But the flexible contract terms offered by US LNG exporters and the United States’ geographic proximity make the fuel particularly attractive as a backup to baseload power and intermittent renewable energy. In Brazil, for example, US LNG is imported when hydropower supply is lower during the dry season, said Edmar Luiz de Almeida, professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro’s Institute of Economy. In Central America and the Caribbean, US LNG can also help fill the vacuum left by Venezuela’s Petrocaribe shipments, which have fallen sharply in recent years, and a decline in shipments from Trinidad.
Going forward, the US government may try to create a more favorable regulatory environment for gas exports, but the success of US LNG exports also depends tremendously on global gas demand.
By Rebecca O’Connor, Inter-American Dialogue
On September 27, Jacqueline Sanchez, Energy Policy Associate at the Institute of the Americas participated in a Women in Energy breakfast in Mexico City featuring U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson. Amb. Jacobson offered remarks on the importance of the energy sector and its myriad opportunities as a key element for the broader US-Mexico bilateral relationship. At the breakfast, Sanchez joined a distinguished group of female executives, government officials, and representatives from academia and civil society. The event was hosted by Chevron, an Institute of the Americas Energy Steering Committee member and featured a wide ranging discussion of key issues facing Mexico’s energy sector.