Seen as the new energy frontier of the country, natural gas could put Brazil in a new level on the international scene. Until then associated with the exploration of offshore oil, gas has become the subject of thorough studies, made by the National Petroleum Agency (ANP) and by companies that indicate huge potential in onshore basins. Experts say the country has huge reserves of natural gas the size of the oil in the pre-salt in the Santos Basin. With this, the offer to the market should increase 360% from the current 65 million to 300 million cubic meters per day between 2025 and 2027. By 2020, Petrobras, the main producer, workswith a scenario of 200 million cubic meters per day. The Minister of Mines and Energy, Edison Lobao, goes further. In an interview with O Globo newspaper, the country forecasts self-sufficiency in the sector in five years, and then, even becoming an exporter:
- The country will live in a golden age for gas.
It is so much gas in areas such as basin Parecis in Mato Grosso and São Francisco, Minas Gerais, the gas becomes bubbles in the water, a phenomenon called exudation. At certain points, such as in small Buritizeiro in Minas Gerais, the water that gushes from the ground, with only a match lights a huge intermitent flame.
But to take advantage of all this potential, it is necessary that the government sets a new policy for the use of gas and that the ANP, which has invested R$ 120 million per year in the study of sedimentary basins, starts re-doing the bidding rounds, stalled since 2008, with the discovery of the pre-salt area.
Experts believe that with more raw materials and new techniques of exploration, the domestic industry can gain competitiveness. And today, the price of gas, above the world average, can converge to international levels over the next eight years, reducing by 53% the amount charged from the industry, estimates the Federation of Industries of the State of Rio de Janeiro (Firjan).
The potential is enormous. Today, 96% of the basins have not yet been explored. Geological studies by ANP indicate large reservoirs in six basins, from North to South. The director of the Institute of Electrotechnics and Energy (IEE), and former director of Petrobras Ildo Sauer goes further: for him, Brazil is on the verge of an energy revolution. According to the expert, estimates of the Department of Energy realize that Brazil could have reserves of 7 trillion cubic meters, compared to 395 billion cubic meters today. The volume is equivalent to four million barrels of oil per day.
- It’s a real revolution. With the development of technology in production, it will reduce costs and lower environmental impacts. But the government has to draw policies – highlights Sauer.
Transition to a clean matrix
Marco Tavares, from the consultancy Gas Energy says gas exploration in the basins was given a new dimension with the discovery of a new technique, by Americans, which makes the fields economically viable:
- So the U.S., which imported 20% of its gas consumption, now produce 100% of their demand. There, the market is 30 times greater than Brazil. The gas is cleaner than other fuels and can leverage the industrial development of the country.
Among the environmentalists, the gas non-associated to oil is also seen as an option to coal, diesel and fuel oil, for having fewer environmental impacts. According to Ricardo Baitelo, coordinator of the Renewable Energy Campaign for Greenpeace, the gas is the link between low-emission energy, like wind and renewable, and more pollutants:
- The gas has an important role, which is to serve the current scenario of transition to a clean energy matrix. Therefore, it is essential that transition, which will last until 2050. If you compare the emissions of the gas with fuel oil, the emission drops by half.
Rodolfo Landim, president of YXC oil and Mare Investments, notes that the gas appears as the best option compared to other energy sources shrouded in controversy. On the other hand, Landim highlights the importance of Brazil to return to the auctions:
- The market reacts to government decisions. We see so many problems from the adoption of hydropower, nuclear power plants are a taboo, coal has a number of environmental problems and solar and wind do not generate enough power. And Brazil will continue to grow. Why not use the gas to produce diesel, the most consumed in the country?
In addition to auctions, research is necessary. Sauer points out that the gas in San Francisco and Rio Solimoes is in a different tank (called shale) of the then known:
- We are studying the technology, costs and environmental impact to produce this gas. The U.S. has a similar gas, the so-called shale gas, for which they have developed a technology that reduces costs .
The abundance of gas has even been mentioned in 1956 by writer Guimaraes Rosa in his walks through the backlands. In “Grande Sertão Veredas” there is a clear reference in the region of Minas Gerais. “In one place on the hillside, springs from the ground a sulfur vapor with astounding noise, cattle runs from there, for fear.”