March 2019

March 2019

Welcome to the March edition of Energy Panorama. We spent the last week of the month in Buenos Aires for our two-day Roundtable.

Our Roundtable featured keynote remarks from Secretary of Energy Gustavo Lopetegui (see presentation below), participation by Deputy Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Urbanas from the US Department of Energy, the president of state energy firm YPF, the chairmen of Argentina’s national electricity and natural gas regulators and several other private sector representatives and government officials.

Across two days and several high level panels there was intense discussion of oil and gas issues as well as the emerging role for the lithium market and the broader contours of how the global energy transition is unfolding in Argentina. A unique lunch panel featured a debate with renowned political analysts and their insights on the intersection of energy and politics as the country heads into a presidential election this October.

Not surprisingly, much of the discussion centered on the ongoing structural adjustments and reforms enacted by the Macri administration, particularly those aimed at subsidies and fiscal incentives both in terms of consumers but also energy producers.

Vaca Muerta and the country’s success in developing the massive unconventional resource potential was also heavily debated. Though important gains have been made to reduce logistical and operation costs, continued focus on efficiency measures and creating a more competitive ecosystem is a must, panelists underscored. There is no doubt that further efforts are required to boost the amount and capabilities of service and equipment providers, but also to greatly increase the number of operators in the country’s oil and gas sector.

Furthermore, how to create sufficient infrastructure to “move the molecules” remains a key piece to the challenge. Gains have been made utilizing long-inactive pipelines and infrastructure and reopening natural gas exchanges with Chile and Brazil in the short to medium term makes eminent good sense.

A majority of panelists agreed that the key to fully monetizing Vaca Muerta’s potential was to fully plug Argentina into the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market. To do so will require all segments of the country’s energy sector to participate in the strategic development of the resource – the government, YPF, private sector participants, regulators and civil society. The technology, geography and volumes, not to mention contractual arrangements, are but a few of the elements that will require attention and crucial decisions in the coming months and years. Further, one panelist argued that political consensus and a law supported across party lines stipulating and protecting investment in such a major infrastructure project is needed to reduce the so-called country risk component.

Beyond the fiscal impacts debated, Argentina’s energy sector is also undergoing a broader transformation and disruption brought about by global trends. Indeed, the policy efforts aimed at increasing renewable energy deployment through the government’s RenovAr program was discussed. Panelists agreed that the effort to date had been important but a thorough cost benefit analysis was required in order to best consolidate and determine the gains and to continue forward momentum. Moreover, a new distributed generation law passed last year is being developed for implementation. Benchmarking against international examples from California to Germany to Chile were discussed during the Roundtable.

And, of course, the role that mobility and electric vehicles are playing in the discussion of energy and emissions reduction is an increasing topic for debate in Argentina. Programs and goals set by the City of Buenos Aires, but also efforts made at the provincial level, have led to an uptick over the last year or so in options for citizens to utilize electric transportation, both mass transit and individual vehicles.

Finally, the topic of lithium featured an illuminating discussion of the potential for Argentina to position itself as a global player. However, the market is still quite small, prices are volatile and the number of projects that exist solely on paper far exceeds the reality that global headlines portray for lithium. But as several panelists argued, therein is the opportunity for oil and gas companies to bring to bear financing and operational insights to the sector and perhaps facilitate some of the dormant projects and boost the development of Argentina’s lithium market.

p>March also featured participation in a panel at the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC focused on energy under the AMLO administration and our analysis and commentary on the question of distributed generation in Argentina as well as part of our podcast series.


Argentina Energy Roundtable

Secretary of Energy Gustavo Lopetegui’s Presentation

Videos

Litio en Jujuy

The Outlook for Mexico’s Energy Sector under the AMLO Administration

Podcast

Argentina´s Distributed Generation Market: The Devil is in the Details

Analysis

Argentina´s Distributed Generation Market: The Devil is in the Details

In the News

Quién se inmola por la Argentina

Country Focus: Industry sees USMCA as chance to prod Mexico into comprehensive chemical management

Pobreza Energética, posibilidad real de combatirla en México


The Outlook for Mexico’s Energy Sector under the AMLO Administration pt1

Mexico’s new energy model has been controversial in the Mexican regime, but widely held around the world. Since 2013, Mexico has witnessed a deep and rapid opening of its energy sector, as well as several attempts to reform PEMEX and the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). However, Mexico’s energy reform is still incomplete and faces new challenges under a new Andrés Manuel López Obrador administration.

 

Mercado de generación distribuida de Argentina: El diablo está en los detalles

Mercado de generación distribuida de Argentina: El diablo está en los detalles

Cecilia Aguillón
Institute of the Americas Director, Energy Transition Initiative
March 8, 2019
This article was fist published in PV Magazine

Durante décadas, los mercados de generación renovable distribuida (GD) han estado creciendo en el hemisferio occidental en áreas fuera de la red. Sin embargo, los proyectos fotovoltaicos conectados a la red están en apogeo, en la mayoría de los países América Latina que están desarrollando sus programas de transición energética. El último país en anunciar la promulgación de leyes para el mercado GD es Argentina.

En diciembre de 2018, Argentina publicó regulaciones para implementar la ley No. 27.191 para acelerar su mercado GD, descentralizar las fuentes de energía, reducir las emisiones y crear empleos. Al igual que con la mayoría de las medidas legales y reglamentarias incipientes, el éxito dependerá del diseño de políticas adecuadas que atraigan la inversión local y hagan crecer su mercado GD en forma sostenible. El momento no podría ser mejor, ya que los costos de la tecnología renovable se encuentran en su nivel más bajo en la historia, y Argentina puede aprender de las lecciones significativas de mercados más maduros, evitar errores y adaptar las mejores prácticas a su conjunto único de condiciones.

 

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Los mercados de generación distribuida en América Latina han estado creciendo en los últimos diez años gracias a la rápida caída en los precios de los equipos solares y al aumento de los costos de la energía convencional. En enero, PV Magazine informó que Brasil alcanzó un total de 500 MW en instalaciones de GD. Un año antes, la revista informó que México había superado los 400 MW en 2017; y es muy probable que el mercado mexicano ya haya superado los 500 MW. Los países centroamericanos también han estado desarrollando sus mercados, aunque a un ritmo más lento Pero vale la pena mencionar que el líder del mercado en las Américas sigue siendo California, donde la Comisión de Servicios Públicos (CPUC) informó que 7.6 GW de capacidad instalada acumulada fue lograda al final del año 2018.

Desde los mercados altamente promocionados como California, México y Brasil, vemos políticas en común como son el aumento de los costos de la electricidad convencional, la fácil interconexión y la medición neta. Sin embargo, la medición neta puede no ser un motor de arranque en Argentina donde los distribuidores de electricidad y los operadores de la red parecen opuestos a esta política. Además, los precios de la electricidad en Argentina son artificialmente bajos, y actualmente se encuentran cerca de los USD $ 0.05 / kWh. Sin embargo, a partir de ese desafío hay una oportunidad para que el gobierno reduzca sus subsidios a la electricidad al mismo tiempo que sustituye las fuentes de energía limpia con un programa de GD bien diseñado y ejecutado. Cada vez está más claro que existen opciones para que Argentina pueda superar su conjunto único de desafíos.

Si reducir los subsidios a la energía es políticamente prohibitivo en Argentina e incluso los precios solares actuales no son rentables para la mayoría de usuarios, el mercado de GD podría beneficiar a los grandes consumidores de energía en el sector industrial que actualmente pagan más de USD $ 0,10 / kWh.

El Salvador y Guatemala, por ejemplo no ofrecen medición neta y el exceso de generación de sistemas fotovoltaicos se compensa a los precios de mayoreo, pero su recuperación es de casi menos de 5 años, según los instaladores locales, porque las tarifas de electricidad actuales son de dos dígitos. Para mercado de grandes usuarios de energía, la facilidad de las reglas de interconexión y el acceso a financiamiento de bajo costo pueden ser incentivos suficientes. Esto podría crear un impulso para acelerar la industria local, ya que los proveedores e instaladores de tecnología fotovoltaica pueden crecer, competir y reducir los costos de instalación. Si el país desea llegar a los consumidores residenciales que pagan menos de USD $ 0,10 / kWh, el desafío es mucho mayor.

La Comisión de Servicios Públicos de California enfrentó una situación similar al implementar la Iniciativa Solar del Estado. Aunque las tarifas de electricidad eran altas para comenzar, la tecnología era un 80% más cara que hoy, por lo que la energía solar no era factible cuando se creó la Iniciativa. Los subsidios se diseñaron para pagar los kWhs de energía solar producida por los clientes, pero los subsidios solo duraban cinco años porque ese fue el tiempo estimado y aceptable para el retorno de la inversión. De manera similar, los clientes de energía solar argentinos podrían obtener un subsidio basado en la producción de kWhs por un corto período de tiempo como incentivo para acelerar el mercado, especialmente cuando la medición neta no es una opción.

El fácil acceso y el bajo costo de financiamiento pueden ayudar a Argentina a promover el mercado de GD de manera efectiva. América Latina es conocida por sus altas tasas de interés, a menudo más del 10%. A pesar de que los costos de la energía fotovoltaica se encuentran en un mínimo histórico, el pago de una tasa de interés del 12% para un proyecto fotovoltaico industrial cambiaría la rentabilidad desde un par de años si se compra en efectivo hasta diez años o más cuando se financia. Por lo tanto, Argentina podría diseñar un programa de préstamos con tasas de interés más bajas que las actuales. El fondo podría recuperarse y regenerarse para ayudar a los futuros clientes. Un financiamiento factible podría hacer que los proyectos de GD sean rentables y el mercado crecería de inmediato.

Para que la Generación Distribuida prospere en Argentina, las inversiones en energía solar deben obtener un retorno de inversión razonable. Tener eso en mente y al mismo tiempo asegurarse de que los distribuidores de energía paguen una tarifa justa por el exceso de kWhs puede parecer complicado, pero estos son dos de los detalles más importantes a considerar para que las políticas de GD muevan al mercado. Afortunadamente, varios países en el mundo le brindan a Argentina un menú de herramientas de políticas que se pueden modificar y adaptar para arrancar un mercado con éxito.

 

February 2019

February 2019

The Institute of the Americas Energy & Sustainability program wrapped up February and kicked off March in Mexico City. Our Roundtable counted two days of debate and discussion focused on the energy agenda for the new administration, understanding self-sufficiency goals, how to define energy security and the state of the country’s energy sector as the Lopez Obrador administration reaches the 100-day milestone.

An update on the efforts to combat fuel theft was the topic of a closing keynote address by Alfonso Durazo, Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection. We also convened a unique half-day dedicated to workforce development and talent creation for Mexico’s energy sector together with our partner ANUIES, Mexico’s association of universities and higher learning institutions. Event photo gallery and presentations are available below. An event report and policy paper will be published in late March.

Our webinar series this month also focused on Mexico and examined natural gas. The webinar was a follow-up to a two-part report series that we published by John McNeece and his assessment of the burgeoning US-Mexico natural gas trade and risks associated with the spike in imports into Mexico from US gas fields and an ever-growing pipeline infrastructure footprint. He was joined by Veronica Irastorza for the webinar.

Below we also include IOA Board Member and former BP Mexico chief Chris Sladen’s latest ANZMEX Energy Matters column and his views on the outlook for oil production in Mexico.

As Colombia launched its first major renewable energy auction at the end of February, we weighed in on the key issues for possible bidders and the outlook for the tender.

Our podcast series turned to Venezuela and the unfolding political developments in the country as Juan Guaido, the leader of the national assembly, declared himself interim president and was quickly recognized by a long list of countries in the hemisphere. We spoke to UCSD Distinguished Professor of Political Science David Mares for his insights and views.

At the end of March, we host our annual Argentina Energy Roundtable in Buenos Aires. This year’s event will be divided into two days with oil and gas the focus on March 27, particularly the advances in the country’s unconventional resource development and the future of natural gas including possibilities for moving beyond regional natural gas exports to LNG. Discussion of developments around lithium and energy transition, the RenovAr program and mobility trends will comprise the agenda for the March 28 sessions. The election year backdrop will also figure prominently.

Mexico Energy Roundtable

Presentations

Photo Gallery

Opinion & Analysis

Will Companies Flock to Colombia’s Renewables Tender?

Energy matters – will oil production go up, or down?

Webinar

Mexico Natural Gas Outlook 2019

Podcast

Venezuela’s Political Outlook: A conversation with David Mares

In the News

Participa Rector de la UABCS en foro nacional energético

Despite Presidents’ Saber-Rattling, U.S. NatGas Exports to Mexico Expected to Continue


January 2019

January 2019

Happy New Year and welcome to the first installment of Energy Panorama for 2019.

We are very pleased to share this month’s featured report LNG and the Panama Canal: Should Another Expansion Already Be on the Drawing Board? The report was prepared during the fall 2018 quarter as part of a research project by Melisa Uzcategui-Ebner, Timona Ghosh, and Edgar Kelly-Garcia, graduate students at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy & Strategy (GPS).

The Panama Canal’s third set of locks opened in June 2016. By the end of the canal’s fiscal year last September, LNG transits had contributed significantly to a record-setting year of 442.1 million tons crossing its waters. Beyond an assessment of the current state of LNG usage in the canal, the report analyzes a series of elements associated with the possibility of another expansion using the third set of locks as a reference. Where the Panama Canal fits in the larger geopolitical outlook could be greatly determined by its future expansion, how such an additional expansion is financed and if LNG continues to grow in importance for the canal’s operations and financial well-being.

Our webinar series kicked off the year with Mexico Oil Outlook 2019 and a new format with a virtual panel. It was a lively discussion and debate with John Padilla, Managing Director, IPD Latin America and Gonzalo Monroy, Managing Director, GMEC with insights and analysis on the issues of oil production, refining, fuels infrastructure and investment as the new year unfolds in Mexico.

Our podcast series delved into fuels and finance in Mexico in an interview with Marco Cota, CEO of Talanza Energy.

Following up on our Roundtable in Bogota last year and podcast with energy ministry officials in December, we published an analysis of the outlook for renewable energy in Colombia as the first auction takes place. We also contributed our insights to understanding the changes in Argentina’s energy secretariat as the new year arrived.

Our webinar series continues on February 6 with Mexico: Natural Gas Outlook 2019. John McNeece, the author of a two-part analysis of US-Mexico natural gas trade will present his research and particularly the risks to Mexico presented by its growing reliance on imports from the US, and how those risks may be mitigated. He will be joined by Veronica Irastorza, Associate Director at NERA Economic Consulting in Mexico City.

We head to Mexico City for our first Roundtable of the year on February 28/March 1 and Buenos Aires on March 27-28 for our annual Energy Roundtable.

Report

LNG and the Panama Canal: Should Another Expansion Already Be on the Drawing Board?

Opinion & Analysis

Will Colombia’s renewable energy auction set a new bar for the market?

How Are Politics Influencing Energy Policy in Argentina?

Webinar

Mexico Oil Outlook 2019

Podcast

Fuels and Finance in Mexico

In the News

Expertos prevén que sólo con apoyo de IP se alcanzaría meta petrolera


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