'Energy Opportunities' Signals Bright Oil Future for Latin America

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Bid rounds, new technologies and the region’s energy future will be topics of discussion at the Energy Opportunities Conference, Exhibition and Business-to-Business Session in Cartagena, Colombia from Aug. 22-23.

Convening regulators, operators, service providers and investors from Mexico to Argentina, the event includes one-stop shopping for anyone interested in an overview of investment opportunities in the region’s energy sector.

Victor Vega
Victor Vega
“We are moving beyond our technical arena to explore regulatory aspects, industry-government collaboration, industry-community relations, plus looking to the future of alternative energy and technologies,” said Victor Vega, Latin America and Caribbean Region immediate past president and general vice chair for Energy Opportunities.

Multiple Objectives

For Elvira Pureza Gómez, Latin America and Caribbean Region president-elect, the conference provides an important service to those working in the region’s public and private energy sector.

Elvira Pureza Gómez
Elvira Pureza Gómez
“We understand that industry and government leaders are busy people, and they have little time to travel across the region to advance their projects,” she said. “This conference brings all the stakeholders to one place and allows them to accomplish several objectives at once.”

John Londoño, offshore Colombia exploration manager at Colombia’s national oil company Ecopetrol, said the conference represents a unique opportunity for the region.

“In a single event we will have some of the most influential individuals responsible for energy matters for governments, regulators and national companies from the American subcontinent. The vital participation of operators and international service companies complete the perfect picture of a conference, which, as the first of its kind, promises to sow the seeds of integration and discussion of common interests and agendas – which is often lacking – so that that all participants can benefit significantly,” he said.

John Lodoño
John Lodoño
“We have the advantage of having a similar cultural and historical background, which should help us to better understand and exchange ideas and opportunities with our Latin American peers,” he added.

Promoting Colombia and the Region

Londoño added that hosting the regional conference is beneficial for Colombia, which signed a peace agreement with FARC guerrillas in 2016 and whose newly elected president, Iván Duque, will take office two weeks before the event.

“This is a special opportunity for the country to show its energy potential and to show industry the steps being taken, from the regulatory point of view, including the fiscal, legal and environmental framework, to materialize all this potential,” he said.

“At the same time, the conference provides us the opportunity to learn from experiences, both positive and negative, of our international peers, and to do an introspective and comparative exercise to see our current position in the energy industry, particularly related to oil and gas.”

Presidents from Ecopetrol and Colombia’s National Hydrocarbon Agency serve as general chairs for the conference, and the opening ceremony includes remarks from the newly named minister of mines and energy, Maria Fernanda Suarez.

ANH will host a private meeting for regulatory agencies and ministries the day before the conference.

Gómez noted that the conference provides a forum for other Latin American and Caribbean countries to showcase bid rounds and investment opportunities.

“Many people know about bid rounds in Colombia, Brazil and Mexico. They may not be so familiar with the shallow bid round coming up in Trinidad and Tobago or opportunities in Barbados or Nicaragua,” she said. “Energy Opportunities allows the lesser known countries to present on the same stage as their larger peers.”

The Regulatory Agency Panel in the conference program includes an overview of opportunities in Colombia, Peru, Suriname and Bolivia, and the Country Snapshots session features additional opportunities throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America.

A New Concept

Vega developed the conference format along with AAPG staff and colleagues in the region.

“I have always felt that as geoscientists we don’t get as involved as our petroleum engineering colleagues in business-related items, but as explorationists we are always the first to arrive to a country to look for opportunities,” he said. “I thought about this idea to combine different aspects that are very important for doing business and to integrate them with new tendencies around alternative energies.”

Pedro Alacrón
Pedro Alacrón
Pedro Alarcón, current Latin America and Caribbean Region president, described the conference as “really necessary” and said the event helps AAPG stay relevant, current and proactive.

“In other conferences, we mainly concentrate on oil and gas. This time, incorporating the role of communities and having the region’s regulatory agencies present will help us to improve our exploration and production activities across the region,” he said. “We need to learn from others the best way to optimize licensing and permitting procedures and to understand the role of the geoscientist in a scenario in which the energy matrix is changing.”

Diverse and Inclusive Program

Gómez said the conference “is about Latin American and Caribbean energy business.”

She noted how, in addition to traditional sessions like offshore developments and unconventional resource exploration, the program includes sessions focused on alternative energies, empowering communities and protecting the environment.

“Those of us working in industry recognize that world is entering in a new era where the energy mix has to be balanced. We need to talk about multiple energy choices, their sustainability and costs and benefits, and we need to work through energy transition in the most efficient manner possible. We need to protect the environment and seek the greater good for communities. No matter what kind of energy project is implemented, social license is key,” she said.

“In addition to helping us to be us good citizens and human beings, keeping these components in mind ultimately makes our companies more successful.”

The conference also includes companies not usually present at AAPG conferences.

Speakers from S&P Global, Wood MacKenzie, Norton Rose Fulbright Baker McKenzie will discuss legal and financial considerations involved with working in the region. Nvidia, IBM and BakerHughes GE will provide an insight into how new technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics are transforming the energy sector. Also, an Associations panel provides best practices for working with industry and government.

Londoño said he is looking forward to attending as many sessions as possible.

“I see a diverse, high level, very balanced agenda that was designed in such a way that it is possible to attend most of the talks,” he said. “As a technical professional in charge of exploration, I am very interested in the subject of new technologies, but I think I will enjoy the event in its entirety.”

Expectations for the Conference

Londoño plans to maximize his time in Cartagena.

“I hope to understand where industry and technology are moving; I’m very interested in Artificial Intelligence and Big Data sessions; to establish new professional and commercial relationships, expand my network, and – why not? – bring in my briefcase a couple of business ideas that can be discussed in my company,” he said.

“I hope to finish the conference with a better idea of the current panorama of the Latin American energy industry, to understand where the industry is going in our subcontinent, where there may be opportunities for growth, and opportunities for improvement in what we are doing. I think that the B2B sessions summarize the spirit of the meeting, because we can come away from the conference with concrete business opportunities,” he added.

Londoño said the conference represents an important opportunity for Ecopetrol and its subsidiaries, who will deliver presentations during the offshore and communities and environment sessions.

“We also want to deliver a clear message to attendees that Ecopetrol is open for business,” he said.

Invitation to Attend

Energy Opportunities will take place at the Hilton Cartagena on the Colombian City’s
Laguito Peninsula.
Energy Opportunities will take place at the Hilton Cartagena on the Colombian City’s Laguito Peninsula.
Vega said attending conferences like Energy Opportunities helps geoscientists to have a more active role in the energy business.

“I encourage my colleagues to explore beyond their technical arena to understand the importance of what we do, especially during exploration phases where we are looking for hydrocarbons and potentially changing or influencing economies in our region and the world. As geoscientists we have a lot to offer and share with other disciplines and organizations,” he said.

Londoño encouraged colleagues to take advantage of this historic moment for Colombia in the country’s most historic city, founded in 1533.

“I extend a cordial invitation to those interested in attending to discover our new country, where the combination of the peace process and a pro-business governmental agenda signal a promising future for the energy industry in Colombia,” he said.

“Attending the conference is the perfect excuse to visit the beautiful city of Cartagena, whose historic center and exceptional cuisine make it forever charming.”

For conference information, registration and sponsorship and exhibition information visit energyopportunities.info.

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