Meet the Council’s new Vice Chair for Latin America

Posted on 20 June 2017

We talk to Claudia Cronenbold Harnes, the Council’s new Vice Chair for Latin America, about the biggest challenges facing Latin America and Caribbean (LAC), the proposed Brazil-Bolivia gas pipeline and plans to increase the number of member committees within the region.

As the Council’s new Vice Chair for Latin America and the Caribbean, what do you see as the three biggest challenges facing the region?
One of the biggest challenges the region faces is the investment needed to develop and grow the region. The region needs to determine how we attract those investors. Energy leaders and policymakers need to explore how to strike the right balance between developing suitable business models that can also satisfy the needs of the consumer, and produce affordable, sustainable projects.

Secondly the matter of integration. Integration has the potential to help countries be more resilient and lower costs related to back-up infrastructure. This is a topic that all the countries in the region agree will enable them to invest greater in their energy systems more efficiently. It is vital that the integration process is accelerated.

Thirdly resilience. In almost all the countries in the region we have examples of expensive solutions to meet the resilience of its energy systems. In recent years the LAC region has faced four times more extreme weather events that have forced governments and energy leaders to build more affordable resilient energy systems.

How do you see your role as the president of the Bolivian Chamber of Commerce complementing your role as Vice Chair for LAC?
I see my role as Vice Chair for the region, helping to give the region and in particular, Bolivia a broader view, enabling us to integrate its projects, as well as any expectations concerning the energy sector. Both the Council and the Chamber of commerce share a common goal, to provide energy in a more sustainable, accessible, affordable manner, so that everything is more interconnected, but also taking into account differing factors at a regional and National level.

As you know the Council’s first ever deep dive into Latin America Scenarios was launched in Peru at the end of May, what are your thoughts on the findings?
I believe the report is an important tool for countries in the region to share their initiatives and to see what would happen if the energy sector in the region were to take one road or another. Nearly all the countries in Latin America contributed to the report. The report shows us how the future of the energy sector could look from three different realties in the future, and how this could impact efficient decision-making using one scenario or another. It is important for every country within the region to explore ways they can build the Council’s scenarios in their decision-making process on a daily basis.

Looking ahead what are you plans for the Council’s Latin American and Caribbean region’s member committees?
We have two immediate goals. Firstly, we are working towards having a very strong region with member committees that can exchange best practices with each other, and can collaborate and work together to overcome the three main challenges I highlighted earlier. Secondly we are working on creating further member committees within the region. There are still a number of countries within Latin America and the Caribbean which are not part of the Council’s network and we are working on bringing them to the table. Our region already has a very good level of visibility and interaction within the Council, but we would like to increase our presence further for the benefit of the region.

What are your thoughts on the proposed ANP (Brazil’s oil regulator) plans for the Brazil-Bolivia gas line announced recently?
Brazil is facing a lot of transformation including the proposed Brazil-Bolivia gas line, and is currently working towards attracting more investors and making the market more dynamic. The country has a number of very good proposals, we need to see if they are going to work. I believe that Brazil is going through a good opportunity to redesign their whole energy market.

What do you think is the next big development in Hydrocarbons in the region?

I do not really see there being a single major development in the immediate future concerning hydrocarbons. Currently the region is facing long periods of low prices. This is an issue bigger than just a private sector challenge. It has now become a state issue. There are a lot of states whose budgets are linked to the commodity prices. This transition from high prices to low prices has been especially difficult for governments within the region. The region is now having to reconfigure the economics of the energy sector.

About Claudia Cronenbold
Claudia is the first woman to lead the CHBE. She also chairs the Bolivian Committee of the World Energy Council and is First Vice President of the Santa Cruz Private Businessmen Federation (Federación de Empresarios Privados de Santa Cruz, FEPSC). From 2004 to 2009 she was accountable for the portfolio decisions and business evaluations in the Petrobras International Area. The portfolio had projects in 27 countries and throughout the hydrocarbon chain: upstream, downstream, gas and energy.
Claudia is an Alumna of the Harvard Business School and has studied Industrial Engineering in the Public University Gabriel Rene Moreno; has an MBA in Management of International Business in the IBEMEC, Brazil.