“Natural gas is the gateway for poor households to the energy transition.” In this way, the economist and partner of Inclusion SAS, Roberto Angulo, summarizes the importance of this energy in the desired and necessary transition process. A conclusion that makes sense in a country where, according to the World Bank, 70% of the population is poor or vulnerable -that is, with a high probability of falling into poverty-. Combating energy precariousness cannot be anything other than a national purpose.
(See: Flexible tubing: what it is and how it could support gas supply.)
We urgently need to recognize that the issue of energy makes up the transversal strategy to fight poverty, a policy that transcends the scope of the Ministry of Mines and Energy and that touches on key aspects such as peace, housing, mobility, connectivity, food security, training for the job. A comprehensive strategy that includes energy is urgent.
In the Development Plan it was consigned that internal connection charges and projects to expand coverage in low-income housing, strata 1 and 2 and rural areas will be financed. Subsidies were also guaranteed until 2027, something fundamental if one considers that 67% of households cook with natural gas, and this represents savings for families.
(See: ‘The decline in reserves puts us on alert’).
But despite all the social and environmental benefits that natural gas provides to 36 million Colombians who use this energy in their homes, businesses, transportation, and industry, it seems not to be enough to expand exploratory activity that also allows us to materialize a historic opportunity. to develop the potential of Colombia’s natural gas reserves and maintain self-sufficiency and energy sovereignty.
100% of the gas consumed today by homes, businesses, vehicles and industries and most of the thermal plants in the country is 100% Colombian. Why lose that privilege?
The Naturgás 2023 Congress had as a painful preamble the affectation in the supply of natural gas that produced a rationing in the southwest due to a natural phenomenon. Fortunately, and sooner than expected, the gas supply could be resumed. But what if it’s not a single region, not a few days? We only value what we have when we lose it.
(See: ‘Top’ of the countries that produce the most natural gas worldwide).
At the Congress we had the opportunity to learn about the current state of gas reserves for our country: proven reserves decreased by 11% in 2022. We have natural gas for 7.2 years.
These figures are worrying. It is necessary to establish a plan to guarantee this energy to Colombians in the long term. The use of natural gas will allow the country to end the energy deprivation of millions of Colombians, maintain self-sufficiency and energy sovereignty, as well as materialize the just transition. Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize in Economics, has said it well: “A calm and efficient transition is required, at the risk of facing a chaotic transition.”
It is urgent to get natural gas out of intensive care: actions must be determined on all fronts, development of recent findings and expansion of exploratory activity to all areas qualified for it. In the short term, molecules discovered in continental areas can be incorporated and in the medium term, anticipate offshore development to have this gas available before the end of this decade. For this, institutional articulation is required, an adequate relationship with communities and public policy signals that attract and stimulate investment in exploration and production of natural gas.
LIGHT STELLA MURGAS
President of Naturgas