Gas: strategic energy resource

The use of natural gas in Colombia has shown an increase since the 1990s, under the policy of gas massification of the government of the day, which allowed the increase of users in industry, homes and transport, turning gas into a transcendental resource in the country.

Before this policy, gas users barely reached 500,000 homes, today they are estimated to be 9.6 million. However, and although the era of the cookery that caused so many tragedies has been overcome, there are still about 1.6 million homes cooked with firewood or coal.

Colombia has counted since this new century with elements that have allowed success in the process of massification, which are based on: adequate regulation, private companies committed to investing and clear government regulation. In addition, to have important resources for reserves at the Chuchupa-Ballenas deposits and associated gas from the Cusiana-Cupiagua fields.

However, efforts in the massification plan have been affected, because the resources of available reserves have stagnated due to the reduction to critical levels of exploration in the last 6 years, due to the hydrocarbon sector crisis. Its effect on the behavior of the country’s gas reserves has not been expected, and as reported by the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), these show a steady decline in self-sufficiency since 2012, since 13.4 years we spend less than 9.8 in 2019.

According to UPME, by 2018 the gas available for internal use was 415,591 MPC, corresponding to 50% of the primary extraction available. Electricity production increased in the last 10 years by about 24%, and thermal generation for this same period increased from 17% of total production to 32%, which demonstrates the high incidence of the use of gas resource in electricity generation.

According to the MME, in 1990 5.2% of the general energy basket came from natural gas. For 2017 it was 19%, and the projections for 2050 estimate that it will be 50%. All of the above demonstrates the important dependence on gas as a source of energy, making the available years of self-sufficiency even less than the current estimate.

This reality makes the situation of self-supply dramatic, and forces the adoption of measures that allow converting existing potential resources into reserves. These include: making use of a larger percentage of the original gas available by decreasing reinjection and applying the concept of energy efficiency, to reduce self-consumption; hiring new blocks on land and corroborating the potential of the discoveries made in the Caribbean Sea, which should be reflected in a greater activity of drilling exploratory wells that must exceed the 73 made in 2019.

And most importantly, advance in the development of unconventional deposits within which shale gas with the application of hydraulic fracturing in horizontal wells, must prove its suitability with the completion of the Integral Research Pilot Wells.

Hopefully the future of this strategic resource allows its availability at least to guarantee non-importation, which would directly impact the finances of the Nation, and of the pocket of all Colombians, starting with the value of electricity and household gas bills, by not mention the rest of the value chain that would impact your lack.

Carlos Alberto Leal Niño

President JD Acipet

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