Colombia Power Report Q2 2016
BMI View: Venezuela's suspension of natural gas exports to Colombia will increase pressure on theColombian power system in 2016 as the country ramps up thermal generation to weather the droughtbrought on by El Niño. This development has prompted us to downgrade our forecast for gas-fired powergeneration in Colombia in 2016 and it could lead to the government hiking electricity tariffs for all endusers to ensure oil-fired generators remain financially viable amid higher fuel costs.
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The impacts of the drought created by the El Niño weather phenomenon will be the main driver ofdevelopments in the Colombian power market in 2016. We expect a sharp fall in hydropower generationin 2015-2016, which has forced additional diesel and natural gas-fired power plants to be dispatched. Theavailability of excess thermal capacity to be used during periods of poor hydrology and plans to importnatural gas should both allow Colombia to avoid experiencing power cuts, albeit narrowly.
Due to a lack of domestic feedstock to satisfy the growing demand from power generators, Colombiahad started importing natural gas from Venezuela from January 2016. However, in January 2016Venezuela halted the exports, citing climate factors, as well as the need to generate electricity. InFebruary 2016 Minister of Mines and Energy Tomás González Estrada, announced the country willimport natural gas from Ecuador instead.
The government is reportedly considering introducing an extraordinary hike on electricity tariffs paid byall consumers in the country. This would allow it to compensate the thermal generation plants that maketheir capacity available during the drought. Some of these have struggled to operate in the current crisis,as the price they are paid is lower than the costs they incur when running on diesel - more expensive thanthe lacking natural gas.
The Government finally sold its majority stake in Isagen in January to Canada's Brookfield AssetManagement for COP6.49 tr (Brookfield valued the sale at USD2.2 bn) after years of delays. However,the sale received widespread criticismand in February 2016 and Colombia's attorney general's officeopened a preliminary investigation into Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas for supposed irregularitiesin privatisation of the company.
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