Top energy leaders convene in Latin America

Posted on 15 July 2016

Energy leaders' in Latin AmericaWith the backdrop of high uncertainty for the energy sector, the World Energy Council gathered energy leaders from across Latin America in Rio de Janeiro on 12 and 13 July to discuss the future of the sector.

The impact of the falling oil prices and the effect that this is having on exports especially in economies that are heavily reliant on these was a key emphasis of the meeting. The meeting focused on the outlook for the region to 2035 with discussions on the impact of falling revenues and national GDP growth on the development of new and renewable energy sources following the historic climate agreement in Paris as well as the role of regional integration.

To address these issues, the World Energy Council brought together over 170 delegates from 18 countries, headed by His Excellency Fernando Coelho Filho, the Minister of Mines and Energy for Brazil and Ernesto Samper, Secretary General of UNASUR and ex-president of Colombia. They were joined by energy leaders from three regional governments, eleven international organisations, plus CEO’s and senior figures from the hydropower, electricity, renewable and finance sectors.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, the Secretary General of the World Energy Council, Christoph Frei said: “This is a critical time for the energy sector globally and regionally. We have seen in Latin America that commodity price pressure and exchange rate volatility has created significant uncertainty for national governments, businesses and consumers alike. This uncertainty is impacting future investment plans and technology choices for the energy sector. Added to this, the impact of extreme weather events on energy infrastructure and the emerging stress over the use of water resources provides the back drop to this important meeting.”

He added: “It is not all doom and gloom; there are ways that countries can work together to increase ambition, resilience and deliver reliable energy services. Building on a series of meetings, working with partners and using fact based analysis will allow us to take forward the recommendations from this meeting to the global energy community during the 23rd World Energy Congress to be held in Istanbul this October.”

The event organised by the World Energy Council and its Brazilian member committee in partnership with CAF, Petrobras and Eletrobras, was the culmination of a series of meetings held across the region. The event provided the opportunity to present regional energy scenarios for the future but also to discuss how further regional integration can help the region balance its Energy Trilemma of energy security, equity and environmental sustainability.

Jose Antonio Vargas Lleras, Vice Chair for Latin America & the Caribbean, commented: “Energy integration has been a goal pursued for many years in the region, but has not advanced at the speed and expected results as we would wish. The original ambition to create a single regional market has been reviewed to bring the focus on bi-national projects as a more effective approach to unlock the potential of regional integration projects.

“The truth is that integration will be key in delivering an energy sustainability element in the region. It brings tremendous energy security benefits for all countries involved and allows for better energy equity including greater access to cheaper and less polluting energy resources, therefore contributing to environmental sustainability.”

Today all governments without exception recognise the benefits of energy integration; however challenges remain in the development of projects. International organisations such as the World Energy Council are the ideal place to bring this topic discussion between the various governments and actors, looking for a sincere dialogue to carry out integration projects platform.

Ahead of the event, on 11 July, Christoph Frei and key figures in the energy sector convened in Santiago to explore the future prospects of the Chilean energy sector in the short, medium and long term and coincided with the official launch of the new World Energy Council Chilean member committee. Key speakers include: Máximo Pacheco, Minister of Energy of Chile; Andrés Romero, Executive Secretary, Chile National Energy Commission; and Ricardo Sanchez, Chief Officer, Natural Resources and Infrastructure, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

In Rio de Janeiro the World Energy Council presented key messages and a short executive summary of the new Latin American Scenarios report which will be sent to participants following the conference. Beyond scenarios, experts also discussed regional integration within Latin America; the impacts of oil price volatility on the energy industry; how to achieve a more resilient energy infrastructure and steps to address the goals defined by the Paris agreement in order to achieve a balanced energy trilemma.

The World Energy Council Brazilian member committee also launched their new World Academy which will inform and educate the energy community to be better prepared to meet news challenges and take advantage of new opportunities within the energy industry. The seminar gathered young Brazilian leaders, which met to discuss how to engage young generations in the energy sector and develop a Future Energy Leaders Community in the Country. FELs from Colombia and Chile also joined and shared their experiences.

On 14 July Argentina hosted an ‘Energy Day’ attended by prominent energy leaders and policymakers which focused on the current challenges facing the energy sector, with the World Energy Council’s Secretary General also giving a keynote speech.

Led by Olga Otegui, Uruguay’s new National Energy Director and chairwoman of the Uruguayan member committee, energy ministers and high-level executives from Uruguay’s main state owned energy companies met with executives from the private sector on 15 July to explore ways of increasing private investments in modern energy infrastructure expansion within the region.

The objective of the two-day gathering in Rio de Janeiro was to bring together ideas and solutions from across the region to be taken to the 23rd World Energy Congress, to be held between 10 and 13 October in Istanbul under the auspices of His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Turkey. The congress will bring together up to 100 energy ministers and thousands of delegates from across the world to shape the future of the energy sector and embrace new frontiers.