In Brazil natural gas already accounts for 9.4% of the country's energy matrix. Consumption of the commodity has tripled since the 1990s, when it participated with only 3.1%. The information was obtained from a survey by the Brazilian Natural Gas Distributors Association (Abegás).
According to Abegás, the Brazilian natural gas industry has been growing year by year, and currently Brazil has more than 1.2 million consumers for the commodity, including the various sectors that use this source of energy. Between 2003 and 2006, the accumulated increase in number of consumers reached 20%.
The Abegás data also show that, from January until December 2006, the number of natural gas consumers increased significantly in the northeastern and midwestern regions, as it grew by 54% and 57%, respectively. The southeastern region saw an increase of only 3%.
But the big surprise was the southern Brazilian region, in which consumption of natural gas increased by 312.5% between January and December 2006. "The increase was mostly due to the higher number of residential consumers for the Gas Company of the State of Paraná (Compagás)," shows the survey.
According to the technicians at Abegás, there are ongoing projects throughout the country aimed at taking natural gas to the interior. A good example is the work under development by distributing companies in northeastern Brazil, which have extended the distribution network (gas pipes) in the region by 65% from 2003 until December 2006, totaling 1,867 kilometers.
The southeastern region features the highest number of natural gas utility companies in a single concession area – there are three distributors in the state of São Paulo, with a 10,818-kilometer distribution network and an accumulated growth of 55% since 2003.
The mid-western region stands out due to its growth percentage: 100.3%, considering that companies have only been operating in the area for three years. The southern region enjoys stable growth in its distribution network, at approximately 5% for the last two years, with 1,559 kilometers of gas pipes.
Over the next three years, Abegás estimates that natural gas distributing companies plan to build a total of 5,000 kilometers of gas pipes for distribution, of which 68.4% will be in the southeast, 16.9% in the northeast, 4.9% in the midwest, and 9.8% in the south of the country.
The survey informs that the accumulated volume of natural gas sales in the entire country last year was 15.2 billion cubic meters. Of that total, 66.68% (10.1 billion cubic meters) were consumed in the southeast, and 16.41% (2.5 billion cubic meters) in the northeast.
Together, the midwestern and southern regions consumed 2.7 billion cubic meters, approximately 16.9% of the total amount consumed. The data also show that average daily consumption was 41.7 million cubic meters.