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Pacific regasification megaproject: The dream of exporting Colombian gas

Although in an extended market this situation would be normal, the initiatives look to cover the market, which in turn will increasingly decrease if the environmental commitments assumed by the country are complied with.

This is the case of the Regasification Plant of the Pacific, a US $700M megaproject which could stimulate the importation of gas and where its promoters are already foreseeing that the national network gas pipeline would not be completed on time but the regasification plant would, which in an unedited and pragmatic form claims it would temporarily use trucks for gas transportation at any cost and any environmental impact.

Here gas is no longer natural gas, as its transportation has added so many emissions that it would be one of the major contributions to new emission of the future of the Colombian society.

It is notable that natural gas exploration using techniques such as fracking it is necessary to consider local and global environmental impacts during its life cycle, an aspect barely coherent with the commitment of Colombia to becoming a carbon-neutral country before 20501 and recently a signee of the Climatic Agenda.

However, the same does not occur at the mega-plant, as it ignores the process necessary to produce liquified natural gas with artificial prices determined in the European and Asian markets which still do not reflect the added environmental impact of the most extensive distribution chain from African and Arab countries with doubtful environmental practices equivalent even in the Colombian market.

Read more: What is liquid gas and what is it for? (in Spanish)

If they follow the same demands carried out and agreed to adopt in the exploration of fracking natural gas (currently in observation in Colombia), supported on the great challenges of contributing natural gas reserves in the mid and long-term, we would see an imbalance in the new regasification megaprojects, with an emphasis in reserve supply which contradicts the search for leveling the payment balance of the country.

Instead of investing in stimulating exports of natural gas, they privilege mega-regasification plant investments that make us more dependent on international markets, besides absurd stimulus such as generous tax cuts for these investments (current versions of legal stability contracts or uni-company free zones), true examples of personalization of benefits, in a country accustomed to privileges directed toward reduced groups overrepresented in the access to inaccessible treatments for any micro-enterprise company linked to the Colombian natural gas sector.

While the developed world substitutes natural gas in electric energy production, in Colombia it is encouraged to add artificial technological blockages to use the Buenaventura port, not to export gas, but to import it.

What said port requires is to be supplied with the capacity to export natural gas through a gas pipeline benefitting from the great capability of obtaining price premiums for emissions avoided in the international market in the production chain. Besides this international maritime liquified natural gas market operates in artificial geopolitical conditions in absence of demand and unstable access conditions to the international market.

For this reason, the Pacific regasification project is awkward; the country cares less about having imported gas, as it is more important to create a hub for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) toward Asia, where they still extensively use this gas and use the infrastructure in periods of unusual contingency as the receptor of imported gas.

The country fails in progressing in this megaproject given its capacity of restricting the national market of exporting natural gas, where they still have several options of territorial development and where the industry would generate linkages with real impact in the generation of new exports of energy products with greater sophistication to the Asian market.

Read more: Mathematical model could help prevent chemical disaster in industrial plants

“In the international markets, the great consumers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are the great Asian powers, as it would be a form of balancing the trade payment balance currently in deficit with the Asian countries including Korea, Japan, and China” (JKM Index).

Therefore, this is an opportunity to send maritime cargo with some added value towards Asia as currently it only travels toward the interior of the country.

Industrial use of natural gas as a transitional power requires coherence in its supply chain to maintain it competitive, circular and sustainable, on the contrary, they would be displacing emissions generated from the industry to those generated in transportation. American natural gas which is incorporated into the world market implies growing stiff costs as the demand will not grow beyond a sustenance rate, any possibility of new markets that enable consumption points and not production will be easy prey to surrender the national energy market.

The real Colombian problem would be to find new deposits of natural gas in the process of incorporation in the coming years and with the reality of reducing energy thermal production plants in face of the arrival of renewable energies.

The contradiction in face of the business

Colombia contradicts the world trends that show a slow dismantling of this type of infrastructure for electric energy production, therefore contaminating plants continue to enter the market, as the two LPG plants did.

The Asian market has the only new liquified natural gas consumers

Recall the geopolitical conflict in Germany in face of the arrival of the Nord Stream 2 undersea pipeline from Russia and the radical reaction of the United States is to demand Germany opening its gas market with a new regasification plant to export American gas. In other words, these plants are endorsed by those who export natural gas, not by consumers, as they have pretended to do in Colombia.

Again, the projects that support these colossal infrastructures are projected over past invalid facts in face of the current technological changes and most grave still, condemning the country to limit natural gas exports, which should be the natural call of those who promote this megaproject in the Pacific.

The resources of the country are currently so scarce, that the rational thing to do would be to build a gas pipeline and provide connections to the inhabitants of Buenaventura, later progress modernizing the port and allow national producers to export natural; but this should be done after building the pipeline to the port, such as Peru and Bolivia did, to develop over a policy of consumption gasification and privilege natural gas exports.





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