According to the prediction of Hefner III (2002), the world energy matrix will leave behind its dependence on oil and will move towards natural gas in the near future. It is the cleanest of fossil fuels, with characteristics that favor greater durability for the equipment that uses it and reduce environmental impacts, in relation to oil/diesel. But it requires strict control of leaks in the chain, as methane, its main component, is a potent greenhouse gas.
And how is Brazil doing?
NUMBERS OF NATURAL GAS CONSUMPTION IN BRAZIL
Natural gas consumption in Brazil grew by 28.82% in 2021, compared to 2020, according to ABEGÁS – Brazilian Association of Piped Gas Distributors – with a recovery in industrial demand, which already exceeds pre-pandemic levels.
The Brazilian market consumed 76.043 million cubic meters (m³/day) of natural gas in 2021. The thermoelectric sector, in a year of water crisis, accounted for 44.7% of this volume, followed by the industrial sectors (38.66%), vehicular (7.80%), residential (1.88%) and commercial (1.03%).
The global escalation of the Russian gas blockade comes at a time when Brazil is increasingly dependent on imported LNG (liquefied natural gas).
After facing the biggest water crisis in the last 91 years, LNG purchases rose between 2020 and 2021 to supply, above all, thermoelectric plants. The total went from 8 million cubic meters per day to 23 million cubic meters per day. The volume already accounts for 27% of the total gas consumed in the country, according to Petrobras data.
In the first two months of 2022, LNG import volume rose 42%, according to the Brazilian Foreign Trade Association (AEB). In the period, prices rose 260%. USA, Bolivia, Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria and the United Kingdom are the ones that most sell LNG to Brazil.
For experts, the situation in Brazil is not comfortable. For Rivaldo Moreira, president of the consultancy Gas Energy, says that the embargo will affect Brazil both with the value of piped gas, since the contracts are linked to international prices and oil, as well as electricity, since some thermoelectric plants have the price of gas linked to the market value of LNG.
DEPENDENCE REDUCTION: INVESTMENTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE
All the natural gas that supplies the southern region of Brazil comes from Bolivia. Brazil imports approximately 50% of its natural gas from the neighboring country.
To reduce this dependence, the ideal would be to invest in infrastructure for clean technologies such as hydroelectric, wind and solar energy in terms of powering industries. Gas would be an alternative source for periods of great drought and also for the fleet of heavy vehicles, today powered by diesel, gas could be a transitory source (conversion/adaptation), being a cleaner technology.
For that, it would be necessary to invest the necessary in infrastructure for pre-salt gas, in the exploration of shale gas and in biogas substrate from swine effluents, in a controlled chain of leaks.
Despite recent growth, the penetration of natural gas in the Brazilian energy matrix is still very low. Limited competition in the chain (there is a dominance of Petrobras, a state-owned company), combined with the absence of policies for gas, delay the development of the sector.
The benefits arising from a competitive and sustainable energy source are essential for the development of the country’s sectors: Automotive, Electric, Industrial, Residential, Services and Commercial.
The benefits of natural gas over fossil fuels are:
- Lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels
- Improved supply reliability with continuous supply compared to other fuels
- Greater safety in use against explosion risks in relation to fossil fuels
- Greater dispatch reliability for thermoelectric plants in relation to renewable sources
- Greater competitiveness of the sector in relation to other fossil fuels
A leap in local production and attractive import alternatives is expected for 2030, with an offer of 171,214 million m³/day.
Regulation mark; government policies, regulators and antitrust bodies; mechanisms to encourage competition in the sector in the short term and investments in infrastructure and exploration are internationally recognized paths to success.
But it is necessary to keep in mind that gas must be a transitional solution for converting heavy local fleets to diesel and a backup for other uses, always prioritizing the use of clean and renewable technologies, which Brazil is privileged, both in terms of potential hydroelectric, such as wind and solar.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Brazil Country Manager Carlos Alexandre de Oliveira