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Colombia overhauling energy demand forecasts as COVID-19 bites

Bnamericas Published: Friday, May 29, 2020
Colombia overhauling energy demand forecasts as COVID-19 bites

The coronavirus pandemic and its impact on energy consumption has prompted the Colombian government to adjust its demand outlook for electric power and natural gas.

In a statement, energy ministry planning unit UPME said the new forecast would take into account the impacts of lockdown and isolation measures introduced in mid-March to counter the spread of the virus.

"Given that this situation wasn't considered in the projections published in 2019, it's necessary to re-forecast future consumption, for both electric energy and natural gas," it said. 

UPME added that April electricity demand had fallen 17 percentage points below its "normal scenario" forecast. Gas demand, meanwhile, was 38 points lower. 

The updated outlook is due to be published before July 1, according to UPME. 

GAS USE RISING

Meanwhile, the volume of gas injected into Colombia's pipeline network climbed 10% from May 11 to 17 compared to the previous week, according to gas market operator BMC

In a bulletin, BMC said 862BBTU/d (billion British thermal units a day) were dispatched in the period amid higher demand from thermoelectric power plants and refineries. 

Local gas production accounted for 802BBTU/d and imports 60BBTU/d, it added. 

SURTIGAS PLAN

Colombian natural gas distributor Surtigas said 73% of its staff have been asked to work from home as part of a series of measures to counter the health pandemic. 

Some 24% of its employees are conducting field work necessary to ensure the continuity of services while around 3% have been given flexible schedules for work that must be carried out "in person", the company said in a regulatory filing. 

Other steps taken by Surtigas include the suspension of non-essential processes such as pipeline construction work and sales processes. Meanwhile maintenance work on existing distribution networks has been prioritized, it added. 

GAS COSTS

And sector regulator Creg published a resolution related to the application of the representative market exchange rate (TRM), aimed at minimizing the effects of cost increases on final consumers. 

The resolution, in Spanish, can be seen here.

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