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ElectraTherm Enters Canada’s Natural Gas Compression Market

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ElectraTherm Enters Canada’s Natural Gas Compression Market ( electratherm-enters-canadas-natural-gas-compression-market )

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Latin America Initiative Foreign Policy at BROOKINGS Changing EnErgy DynamiCs in thE WEstErn hEmisphErE: Impacts on Central America and the Caribbean HArold TrInkunAs Central America and the Caribbean are poten- tially great beneficiaries of the energy revo- lution in the Americas and rapid progress in energy technology. Renewable sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal are becoming com- petitive, particularly in areas remote from existing electric grids. Vast quantities of inexpensive natural gas are also coming onto the market from sources easily accessible to the region, including Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, and in the near future, Mex- ico and the United States. These alternatives offer a greener alternative to thermal power generation from oil-fired plants. Central America also bene- fits from the Sistema de Interconexión Eléctrica de los Países de América Central (SIEPAC), a regional energy grid that enables the trading of electricity across the six states in the region and allows new energy sources to be shared.1 In addition, the Ca- ribbean states have explored the use of geothermal energy and of undersea pipelines to use Trinidad and Tobago’s natural gas export capacity.2 Nevertheless, Central America and the Caribbean have the highest electricity costs within the West- ern Hemisphere, along with the highest dependency on oil as an energy source. These are also the re- gions with the lowest average GDP per capita in the Americas. Yet, with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago, a major natural gas producer, the region is a net energy importer.3 Many countries in the region depend on subsidized financing from Venezuela to pay for oil products PolICY BrIEF, APrIl 2014 through the regional mechanism known as Petro- caribe. Although Central America and the Carib- bean face quite different problems on the energy front, in both cases geography, market fragmenta- tion and politics compound the cost problem in en- ergy production and delivery. The two regions have historically bridged the gap between low income and high energy costs with subsidized access to oil from regional producers. Subsidized oil was first provided by Mexico and Venezuela through the Acuerdo de San José beginning in 1980, and more recently by Venezuela alone through Petrocaribe beginning in 2001.4 Acuerdo de San José ceased operations in 2005, and Petrocaribe is increasingly in trouble due to declining production in Venezue- la, exacerbated by its economic woes and the high- er priority it assigns to oil deliveries to China and Cuba.5 Continued Central American and Carib- bean dependence on Petrocaribe is not beneficial in the long run. It creates disincentives for the adoption of new technologies and investment in new sources of energy, and makes Central Amer- ican and Caribbean states politically dependent on Venezuela for their energy security, and therefore vulnerable to political pressure. The power asymmetry between the oil exporting and consuming countries is particularly acute in this region, and it is compounded by the financial incentives provided by Petrocaribe. Subsidized financing has led to rising levels of debt owed to Venezuela by the 18 member states. Petrocaribe allows members states to finance 40 percent to 60

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