With Venezuela’s state oil company in disarray, international oil companies will be the key to tapping the country’s oil resources. The Inter-American Dialogue interviewed eight large Western oil companies about the conditions that will determine how rapidly, and to what degree, they start or ramp up operations in Venezuela following a political transition.
The fires in the Amazon expose the very heart of the greatest collective action problem that humanity has faced, and it foreshadows harder battles to come. The actions of each individual country have consequences for the global climate, yet perpetrators are loath to make sacrifices when others, especially those with equal or greater responsibility, are not doing the same. The fact that threats of economic punishment seem to have shifted Brazil’s behavior suggests that a similar approach could be taken to address climate change on a larger scale. But it will not be easy, especially where the biggest emitters are concerned.
Revitalizing Brazil’s energy sector will be key to Jair Bolsonaro’s success as president – but so far, he’s had mixed results when it comes to getting reforms through Congress. Unless Bolsonaro learns to work with legislators and ease turbulence within his government, Brazil’s missing energy reforms will continue to threaten its economy, and its politics.
The development of energy resources is an integral component of many of Latin America’s economies, from established producers like Colombia and Brazil to newcomers to the global energy market like freshly oil-rich Guyana. However, policymakers and energy companies throughout the region must devise solutions to a variety of fiscal, political, social, and environmental hurdles to ensure successful and sustainable projects, explained speakers at an Inter-American Dialogue event on May 10.
A lack of transmission-line maintenance may have been the immediate trigger for the power outage that left much of Venezuela in darkness on March 7, but it is a symptom of almost two decades of government mismanagement that has debilitated Venezuela’s power sector, draining its reserves of both human and financial capital and nudging it towards collapse.
Regulators and private companies will continue to play important roles in the development of Mexico’s energy resources despite President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s focus on strengthening state-owned companies and enhancing “energy sovereignty” by reducing dependence on energy imports from the United States. This was the key message from speakers at “La nueva política energética de México,” an Inter-American Dialogue event in Mexico City.
Argentina’s economic crisis and the fiscal belt-tightening it demands have led to gradual cuts to wholesale electricity and natural gas subsidies for consumers and a liberalization of energy prices over the course of Mauricio Macri’s administration. This has helped make Argentina more attractive as a destination for energy investment despite its economic tumult, said Argentine Secretary of Energy Gustavo Lopetegui at an event organized by the Inter-American Dialogue on March 14.
Even if Juan Guaido or another opposition figure finally takes the reins and starts fixing the oil sector in Venezuela, it will take years before oil exports can provide the economic boost needed to pull the nation out of the morass. Venezuela’s oil industry has been severely damaged, and there are questions about the long-term economic viability of its oil fields. Venezuelans will likely be disappointed with the pace of the economic turnaround under any new government—a risk that poses a real threat to political stability. Expectations ought to be tempered.
Brazil should build on its impressive efforts in renewable energy, clean transport, and deforestation reduction. But as President Jair Bolsonaro assumes power, one of the world’s largest economies is on the verge of relinquishing its role as an environmental leader and retreating from the fight against climate change.
November’s midterm elections altered the balance of power in Washington, and the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, which will mean new chairs on key committees, will play an important role in shaping US energy diplomacy and energy markets in the Western Hemisphere. At an event co-hosted by the Inter-American Dialogue and the Institute of the Americas, panelists discussed how the new Congress will approach key issues affecting energy within the context of Latin America’s evolving role in US trade and foreign policy.
Mexico’s 2013 energy reform has led to pledges of almost $200 billion of private investment and renewable power auctions garnering bids to provide electricity at record-low prices. The Mexican government should continue to build on the successes of the reform, César Hernández, former Mexican undersecretary for electricity, and Jorge Castilla, managing director for Mexico at Accenture, said at an event hosted by the Inter-American Dialogue, the Embassy of Mexico, and the Energy Policy Research Foundation.
2018 has been a year marked by great political uncertainty for Latin American energy markets. Oil prices are up, creating strong incentives for investment, rising US natural gas exports are creating a new source of flexible, cheaper energy for Latin American consumers, and the cost of wind and solar energy is declining dramatically. However, Latin America continues to face uncertainty in energy policy as new governments take office in many countries and geopolitical tensions between the US and China are on the rise. With many questions on the table, government officials, corporate representatives, and analysts gathered on October 25 at the Inter-American Dialogue to assess the future of energy policy in the Western Hemisphere.
At the Fourth Annual Latin America Clean Transport Forum on September 27, government officials, private sector leaders, and international researchers gathered in Buenos Aires to discuss the challenges and opportunities for electric vehicles and what global and regional lessons can be used to foster their growth in Argentina.
Could Venezuela’s oil production decline even more steeply? Three evolving developments will largely determine the answer: whether creditors can seize assets in compensation for default, whether large numbers of oil workers continue to abandon their jobs, and whether the United States and other countries impose additional sanctions.
President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador can capitalize on Mexico’s enormous renewable energy potential and make Mexico a leader in the fight against climate change. Although his platform offers some promising proposals, he will have to maneuver through several major obstacles.