AHEAD OF THE LATIN AMERICA & CARIBBEAN GAS CONFERENCE THIS NOVEMBER, WE CAUGHT UP WITH ALFONSO BLANCO BONILLA, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY AT OLADE, TO DISCUSS HOW OLADE MEMBERS’ ARE CURRENTLY INNOVATING IN THE GAS SPACE, AND EXACTLY WHAT THE PUBLIC SECTOR REQUIRES FROM PRIVATE SECTOR TO INNOVATE AND PUSH FORWARD THE ROLE OF GAS IN ENERGY TRANSITION.
Can you provide a brief summary of OLADE’s mission and structure, and the value it provides as an organisation?
Alfonso Blanco Bonilla: OLADE is the Latin American Energy Organization. OLADE is made up of 27 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, plus an extra-regional observer country. OLADE in its governance is made up of the energy ministries of its 27 member countries, with the main objective being regional energy integration and supporting member countries in the development of their policies at a sector level.
What value did OLADE see in partnering with Energynet, IGU and Arpel to deliver the 2nd Latin America & Caribbean Gas Conference & Exhibition? What are you most excited about regarding this new venture?
Alfonso: For some time now OLADE has been working to strengthen ties with the private sector. OLADE is essentially a public body because it is made up of energy ministries of its member countries, but we identify the necessary link with the private sector through the organizations which are established in our region.
In that sense both IGU and ARPEL have been working with close objectives to our own, fundamentally integrating the activity of private sector actors. In working together with OLADE a very interesting synergy is generated to discuss the fundamental aspect of what is the energy sector in our region, and what is the potential for the introduction of natural gas and the development of natural gas. These questions are part of the specific objectives that OLADE has at the level of energy sources.
Can you give an explanation of the future for gas development on the continent?
Alfonso: OLADE has long been trying to impose a concept for natural gas. We are trying to develop the concept that our region needs a fuel for energy transition.
What does this mean?
Incorporating into the energy matrix of Latin America and the Caribbean a fuel that integrates into the energy transition, that accompanies the decarbonization of our economies and that represents a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In that sense, our region has great potential for the development of natural gas. On the supply level, we have countries that offer natural gas but we have a large number of reserves to be developed in terms of conventional and unconventional natural gas. We also have a great demand level challenge. We have to develop a demand that essentially replaces liquid fuels and coal from what are specific uses of energy. In that, our region has great potential. Therefore, natural gas is constituted as that fuel of energy transitions.
Who are OLADE’s main country members innovating in the gas space at a project level, and how are they going about this?
Alfonso: Natural gas at the supply level in Latin America and the Caribbean has a number of countries that already have fuel in their energy matrix.
Here there is a great trajectory at the level of countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, which have a market already developed in the field of the introduction of natural gas and can also export this fuel to neighbouring countries. An example of a large exporter of natural gas in our region is Trinidad and Tobago.
There is also a very large space for shale gas and the development of shale reserves. In this sense, there are four countries that have great potential in terms of unconventional hydrocarbons. Here we are talking mainly about Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, with very important potential for the development of unconventional hydrocarbons in our region.
To this end I refer to what was mentioned previously - that our region also has great potential for energy integration from natural gas. There is an integration infrastructure at the level of natural gas that is not being used to its full potential - the potential for integration from natural gas in our region is very, very high.
What does the public sector need from the private sector in order to innovate and push forward the role of gas in energy transition?
Alfonso: I believe that both the public sector requires the private sector and the private sector requires the public sector. They are two agents of our society that are complementary and that somehow in efficient economies must work in synergy.
For the development of the natural gas market, the participation of private actors at the investment level is necessary. However, for these investments to be developed there must be a policy regime, a regulatory level regime, a legal security level regime.
On the other hand, the role of the state to promote innovation, to work on research and development issues to support the activity of the private sector is fundamental, so that is the ecosystem that has to be developed.
Here what we have to mention is that both the public sector requires joint work with the private sector and the private sector also requires the intervention and establishment of clear norms of an ecosystem conducive to business development in terms of new sources of energy and fundamentally for the incorporation of natural gas.
Can you give an overview of what investors can expect at this year’s LGC, and why it’s an event not to be missed?
Alfonso: For years OLADE, together with other organizations such as the IDB, has been developing the concept of ‘Energy Week’. The Energy Week manages to convene the main actors in the energy sector of Latin America and the Caribbean and that we have been developing for four years now.
In that instance we managed to attract decision makers at the political level, to relevant actors at the academy level, at the private sector level. We managed to convene in a single area all the relevant actors in the Latin American and Caribbean energy sector to exchange these experiences and to generate a really powerful energy sector network. We have achieved that in the four editions we have had of the Energy Week.
On this occasion, following the Energy Week, we are supporting this event (Latin America & Caribbean Gas Conference & Exhibition) promoted by IGU and by ARPEL to work on the issues of incorporating natural gas in our region.
A really very positive synergy is generated between organizations because we have, in some way, a wealth of decision makers and sector authorities that are convened within the scope of our governing body - that is the meeting of OLADE ministers - and that we are encouraging and promoting the dialogue for the introduction of natural gas in the region's energy matrix.
What we intend with all this is to deliver a high level of political and strategic dialogue in energy matters. Using the different perspectives of the various actors of the sector, both public and private, we also hope to identify opportunities in our region for the development of the energy sector and in particular, the development of natural gas in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Any actor that has interests in the energy sector should not miss this type of instance that occurs once a year and that in some way brings together all decision makers, all who are in some way directly related with the energy sector of Latin America and the Caribbean, and that are interested in identifying the different opportunities that our countries present for the development of businesses in the sector.