During his victorious campaign for president of Colombia, the leftist Gustavo Petro claimed that the country’s “three main exports” are “three poisons”.
“The most powerful is coal, which they extract from the Caribbean, La Guajira and Cesar [região e departamentos colombianos]. Then the oil, which they take from Piedemonte Llanero [sub-região colombiana]and then cocaine,” he declared.
Petro plans during his government to initiate an energy transition, in which the Colombian economy in 15 years would stop being dependent on fossil fuels and favor clean energy sources.
“We will gradually de-escalate economic dependence on oil and coal. In our government, the exploration of unconventional reserves will be prohibited, fracking pilot projects and the development of reserves at sea will be stopped. No new licenses will be granted for the exploration of hydrocarbons, and large-scale open pit mining will not be allowed”, points out the ex-guerrilla’s government plan, which also provides for a compensation policy so that coal and oil reserves do not be explored.
Entrepreneurs in the Colombian energy sector and experts believe that these targets could cause great damage to public accounts and the country’s economy in the coming years.
According to the Colombian Association of Petroleum and Gas (ACP), if only the current contracts for the exploration of hydrocarbons are maintained, in 2026 Colombia would need to import gas and in 2028, oil for domestic consumption.
Alexandra Hernández Saravia, vice president of economic and regulatory affairs at the ACP, highlighted in an interview with the newspaper La República the side effects that this situation would have.
“When a country needs to spend more dollars on energy, it impacts the economy beyond the gas bill and household costs. There is a macroeconomic issue: the sector supports the dollar, the cost of food, inputs and credit cards”, he argued.
The ban on new licenses would result in a loss of US$45 billion in exports over ten years, the ACP estimated.
According to the news website La Silla Vacía, oil and its derivatives accounted for 52% of Colombian exports in the first quarter of this year and 8.5% of foreign direct investment in 2021.
“Making a very quick transition [de matriz energética]
could leave Colombia without the necessary resources to finance the same transition, but also to overcome the poverty numbers,” former Minister of Mines and Energy Tomas González, now director of the Regional Center for Energy Studies, told La Silla Vacía.
According to the ACP, if carried out, Petro’s energy policy would generate fiscal losses in four years that would represent 40% of what the Colombian government spends on social programs.
“Colombia has oil and gas, we are not big producers, but there are important resources. The European context taught us not to depend on other countries for energy supply”, warned Francisco Lloreda, president of the ACP.
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