The first step in a significant change in Brazil’s energy matrix will be taken on December 1st when the ministries of Cities and Mines and Energy sign a contract with Petrobras – Petróleo Brasileiro S.A., the country’s state-run petroleum giant, to begin the process of shifting public transportation from diesel to natural gas fuel.
According to José Carlos Xavier, the executive secretary of Urban Transportation at the Ministry of Cities, a number of factors are behind the decision.
First ,there is the fact that Brazil has abundant natural gas reserves. That will mean cheaper transportation.
Then there is the environmentally friendly nature of gas – it does not pollute the atmosphere.
Finally, there is the prospect of reducing Brazil’s dependence on imported petroleum.
Yesterday a conference in Brasilia brought together mayors from around the country and government authorities to discuss the issue.
The executive secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Maria das Graças Foster, announced that Brazil would begin adding 2% biodiesel to diesel fuel, making it another source in Brazil’s energy scheme.
Foster declared that the government is aware of the importance of petroleum and gas as an energy source, and in the provenience of taxes and income at the federal, state and municipal levels..
But she pointed out that the supply situation today is extremely worrisome, even though Brazil should be self-sufficient in petroleum by the year 2006.
“Compared to the last petroleum crisis, in 1990, today the situation is much more delicate. In 1990, the difference between demand and supply was running at around 10%. Today it hovers at 3%.
“What that means is that we have world demand at around 78 million barrels per day, while the available supply is only 80 million barrels per day. That is a very tight fit,” she declared.
Today developed nations are working on diversifying 10% to 20% of their energy sources, says Foster, while Brazil already has a much more diversified scheme: 41% of Brazil’s energy sources are renewable (14% is hydro and 27% is biomass, with sugarcane growing fast). Petroleum provides 43% and natural gas 7.6%.