Latin America and Caribbean Strengthen Energy Complementarity

By Sinay Céspedes Moreno*

Montego Bay, Jamaica (PL) The 2nd Meeting of Ministers of Energy of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, was an opportunity for consensus to strengthen the complementarity of the two sub-regions on energy issue.

The exchange, held on October 24 and 25 at the Convention Center of the most touristic city of Jamaica, was attended by 22 of the 33 countries of the CELAC, most representing Latin America.

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba (president pro tempore of CELAC), Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela and the hosts, were among the participants.

The need for a regional energy balance and promoting the use of renewable and environmentally friendly sources, as well as the analysis of developments at the zonal level, were the focal points of the event.

Around 70 delegates from 22 of the 33 countries forming the CELAC discussed during two intense days mechanisms to promote the integration of both subzones, essential task to confront successfully the current global challenges.

Jamaica, event organizer, Cuba, as president pro tempore of CELAC and the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) ruled the working sessions, which began with a meeting of senior officials that took place behind closed doors.

This event included the presentation of a report by OLADE about the achievements of 1rst Meeting of Energy Ministers, held in November, 2012 in Lima, Peru, and the exchange of technical information on biofuels in the region.

Victorio Oxilia, executive secretary of the organization, praised the work of Cuba, at the head of the bloc, with which it holds a very coordinated work.

He reiterated the commitment to supporting CELAC, as well as the Community member states but not of the OLADE, such as Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia.

The delegates drafted a Declaration project and an Action Plan that was submitted to the judgment of the ministers in the final session of the meeting, which lasted longer than planned due to some proposed modifications to the original documents.

A point to note in the discussions was the participation of international organizations such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), whose countries are high consumers of fuel and benefit today from agreements like Petrocaribe, devised by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, through which they receive oil and its derivatives at preferential prices.

As a result of this agreement, to date Caracas has provided 232 million barrels of oil to 10 countries in the area, and 14 mixed companies were formed.

The above data were ratified by the Venezuelan Minister of Petroleum and Mines, Rafael Ramirez, who chaired his country’s delegation to the meeting in Montego Bay.

He recalled that Petrocaribe works hard, it is a structure with secretariat, presidency, working groups and its own transport systems.

Interviewed by Prensa Latina, the minister said that every country has storage capacity, ensuring continuity of supplies.

We also advanced in Petrocaribe Economic Zone, which beyond the exchange is an area to supplement our production and needs, in order to increase the trade-off among our countries. This topic has been welcomed by governments and it is at a higher stage, he added.

The meeting concluded with the Declaration of Montego Bay on Energy Security and Integration, and Action Plan, which will implement the proposals aimed to achieve a sustainable and balanced region.

According to the organizers, the meeting is a new step of the range states that consider energy as one of the greatest challenges, since they are mostly high fuel consumers and low producers of renewable sources, despite having resources as the sun, water and air, especially in the Caribbean.

The Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mines of Jamaica, Phillip Paulwell, one of the hosts, said the meeting was a milestone, showing the strengthening of dialogue, regional cooperation and unity in the struggle to solve one of the most critical points of the area.

Our region is blessed with abundant natural resources to meet the demand of all our peoples. However, there are wide disparities in access, cost and sustainability. We are engaged in these issues, he said.

In this context, Jamaica has an ambitious energy plan with the goal of ensuring that by 2030, 30 percent of electricity is generated from renewable sources.

The national program, approved by the Senate and Parliament in 2010, to be completed within a period of 20 years, aims to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and expand programs for using environmental friendly energy.

The Cuban Minister of Energy and Mines, Alfredo Lopez, said: “The meeting attained its objectives, a document was achieved, new labor goals were materialized and an ad hoc group was formed to monitor the agreement”.

“There are general objectives within which cooperation will be analyzed, and especially the integration, point absolutely necessary at this time.” 

The 2nd Meeting of Energy Ministers of CELAC showed the political will of the two sub-regions’ governments to work for the benefit of the people, which are the main reason for the existence of all the mechanisms of the Latin American and Caribbean integration.

* Special Envoy of Prensa Latina News Agency 

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Modificado el ( jueves, 07 de noviembre de 2013 )
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