A new change of opinion is recorded in the energy sector in the government of President Guillermo Lasso regarding the issue of natural gas. Although the signing of contracts for the exploitation of the Friendship Field (Block 6) was scheduled for November 30, 2022, the process would be delayed, as reported by the portal First fruitsciting the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources itself, until August 2023.
At the beginning of the Government there was no clear position on its policy on natural gas; however, by November 2021, the Campo Amistad bidding process it was announced with great fanfare on the forum Ecuador Open Business. Then the launch was carried out successfully last June, since the interest had been obtained of at least 34 companies. This process is important because the demand for natural gas is growing more and more and the national production of this fuel will serve to supply said demand at more affordable prices.
However, the announcement of the delay, which still needs to be ratified by the Board of Directors of Petroecuador, it affects the national production process and rather opens the door for imports, at higher prices. This was the opinion of several actors in the sector.
Bladimir Cerón, president of the Petroleum Coalitionregretted that these situations that go in the opposite direction to national interests are being experienced in the country.
He explained that the Government is not seeing the internal needs or what is happening in the world. “Gas is a key energy transition fuel and we have enough gas accumulated in block 6 that is already being exploited, and there is much more resource in blocks 1 to 5. Blocks 39 and 39 could easily be put out to tender. 40 (attached to 3 and 1)”, commented Cerón.
He added that the demand is growing both for the ceramic and cement industry, and even the Combined Cycle project, which requires gas, is being developed.
And that the production of gas at the national level would generate a fuel that is 60% or 70% cheaper than the imported one. In this sense, he said he did not understand the Government’s motivation for the change: “there is no explanation, unless they are political issues that end up benefiting importers.”
For its part, Jorge Luis Hidalgo, general manager of Greenpower, one of the companies that bid in the Campo Amistad process, He recalled that this tender would mean some $500 million of investment for the country. Additionally, he said that even President Lasso, who visited Campo Amistad in April of this year, gave the good news of this tender, confirming a production potential four times higher, indicating that the benefit for the country from this resource will be used to combat malnutrition. childish. “In July of this year they publicly requested that letters of interest be sent and 34 companies expressed interest in participating in this tender,” he recalled.
He commented that in January of this year, Greenpower became the first company in the country to obtain permits for the industrialization of natural gas in Ecuador and assured that this announcement “will delay our investment project if we still manage to maintain the interest of our investors. ”.
For Hidalgo, this announcement has only one winner and that is the fuel import sector. With this, the country loses and once again we will continue to be subjected to fuel imports, he said.
He believed that the most serious thing is that there is no energy security plan or coordination between public companies. This is demonstrated when there is a tender underway for a new 400MW thermogas (combined cycle) that can only be tendered at imported natural gas prices and it is not a small thing, since the cost of imported gas is between 40% and 70%. % More expensive. That value is going to cause the price of KWh to be offered to be more expensive and we will all end up paying for this lack of coordination, he said.
According to Hidalgo, at a time when the issue of subsidies is being discussed internally, natural gas should be looked at, which is 70% cheaper than imported diesel, LPG and gasoline and can replace the vast majority of these consumptions in different applications. . (YO)