September 30, 2010
Vol 1, Issue 12

Top 2010 Energy Developments in Latin America...


The following issue of NotiEn contains articles about important energy developments in the Americas during the first nine months of 2010.  


One of the most significant developments this year was the controversial decision by a British company to begin oil exploration in the Islas Malvinas/Falkland Islands, which has reignited a dispute between Argentine and the United Kingdom. 


Other controversial issues have emerged, such as Brazil's decision to proceed with construction of two nuclear power plants despite opposition from local residents and environmental advocates. 


In Colombia, a horrific methane-gas explosion in an underground coal mine near the town of Amagá brought renewed attention to the lack of oversight of the country's booming coal industry.


In Peru, residents of the Cusco province of La Convención organized a massive strike in August to protest against gas exportation from one of the nearby Camisea fields, the country's major gas reserves.  The action was intended to convince President Alan García to respond to local calls to prioritize domestic demand for the resource.


And in Ecuador, the government and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) signed a trust agreement to administer the financial resources with which the international community will support the Initiativa Yasuní.  Under this initiative, the government has committed to leave in the ground existing oil reserves in this area of the Ecuadoran Amazon.

Climate considerations and concerns about global warming have also had a bearing on energy policy in the Americas this year. Venezuela's electricity crisis in early 2010 was caused primarily by a prolonged drought, which greatly reduced water flows to the country's Guri Dam.  The facility supplies about 70% of the country's water.  


As we noted in the fifth edition of NotiEn, hydroelectric power is an important source of electricity in Latin America.  Despite the possibility that climate change might have an impact on water flows, some countries still see hydroelectricity as a very viable option.  In March of this year, Nicaragua announced plans to construct a massive hydroelectric dam on the Río Grande de Matagalpa near the town of Tumarín.


Climate concerns will remain at the forefront of most energy-related decisions in Latin America foreseeable future. And even though the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009 was not considered a success by most measures, countries like Brazil and Mexico have made commitments to reducing emissions.  In Brazil, the Congress and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will have to decide how to implement the climate-change law (Lei de mudança climática).


In Mexico, President Felipe Calderón is attempting to lead the region and the globe in promoting environmental sustainability.  Because of Calderón's efforts, the UN decided to hold the next phase of climate-change negotiations in Mexico on Nov. 29-Dec. 10, following up on the Copenhagen summit.  Mexico is seeking to become an intermediary to bring all sides together to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that would significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. A new agreement would go into effect on 2013, replacing the Kyoto Protocol, which was initially adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. 

Carlos Navarro - Editor