The Growing Role of Liquefied Natural Gas in Latin America

October 5, 2017 - 12:00 pm

Atlantic Council, 1030 15th ST NW, 12th Floor
Washington, DC
Regional Energy Integration: The Growing Role of LNG in Latin America

A conversation with:

Gonzalo Aguirre
Director, National Transport and Measurement of Hydrocarbons
Ministry of Energy and Mining, Argentina

Jose Maria Castro
General Manager
Sociedad Portuaria El Cayao (SPEC)

Giovani Machado
Superintendent, Natural Gas and Biofuels Department
Empresa de Pesquisa Energética

Sue Saarnio
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources
US Department of State

Introduced and Moderated by:

David Goldwyn
Chairman, Energy Advisory Group and Nonresident Senior Fellow, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center
Atlantic Council

Natural gas is emerging as a critical source of energy in the Americas and around the world, and Latin America is rapidly becoming a key destination for US LNG exports. With natural gas accounting for nearly 25 percent of global energy consumption, with liquefied natural gas (LNG) accounting for 10 percent of gas consumption, the Americas are driving the market and contributing to the increasing role of natural gas in the global energy mix. Latin America is currently the number one destination for US LNG exports, accounting for over 40 percent. Many governments in the region see natural gas as a low-carbon energy option that can support their increasing turn towards renewables. Additionally, lower global LNG prices, the impacts of drought conditions on the region’s hydropower sector, and a departure from industries such as coal and diesel have driven the demand for LNG and calls into question whether this is an opportunity for Latin America to become more integrated.

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Atlantic Council
1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator) 
Washington, DC 

This event is open to press and on the record.



Gonzalo Aguirre is the director of National Transport and Measurement of Hydrocarbons at the Ministry of Energy and Mining of Argentina, where he has worked since 2016. In this position, Mr. Aguirre leads thirty people in auditing, controlling, and developing regulations for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, royalties, transporting and storing liquid hydrocarbons, and metering facilities. From 2013 to 2016, Mr. Aguirre held a position at SGS Group in the Netherlands, where he worked as a technical sales and business development manager for the Subsurface Consultancy Division. Prior to this, Mr. Aguirre worked as an internal reserves auditor for Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales (2010-2013). During that time, he was responsible for centralizing the reserves figures for the Southern fields and evaluating studies. From 2007 to 2010, Mr. Aguirre was with Gran Tierra, where he managed reservoir engineering initiatives and field operations, and led the revamping of the Valle Morado HPHT gas field in the Northern Basin of Argentina. Prior to this position, Mr. Aguirre worked at Techint as a reservoir engineer, analyzing tight gas reservoirs in Cuenca de Burgos in Mexico and fields in Neuquen under secondary recovery. He holds a degree in petroleum engineering from Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires and a master’s in business degree from Instituto Argentino de la Empresa.

Jose Maria Castro is the general manager at Sociedad Portuaria El Cayao (SPEC), the first LNG import terminal in Colombia. Prior to joining SPEC, he worked as head of business development for Promigas, a Latin American regional holding with businesses in midstream and downstream energy, primarily natural gas and LNG. During his tenure at Promigas, he was responsible for all business development activities throughout the region. He participated in the development of SPEC and led the origination of a natural gas distribution concession for the company in northern Peru. Mr. Castro has over eighteen years of experience working in investment banking, capital markets, project evaluation, and business development in the United States and Latin America. He holds a degree in industrial management with a minor in industrial engineering from Purdue University, as well as a master’s in business administration with a minor in international business from the University of Miami. He has complementary studies in areas of finance, project management, and operations management.

David Goldwyn is president of Goldwyn Global Strategies, LLC, an international energy advisory consultancy. He is chairman of the Atlantic Council Energy Advisory Board. He is the co-editor of Energy & Security: Strategies for a World in Transition. Mr. Goldwyn served as the US State Department’s special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs from 2009 to 2011, where he conceived and developed the Global Shale Gas Initiative and the Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative and led ministerial level energy dialogues with the developing world. Mr. Goldwyn previously served as assistant secretary of energy for international affairs (1999-2001) and as national security deputy to US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson (1997-98). Mr. Goldwyn is a member of the US National Petroleum Council. Mr. Goldwyn has been published extensively on topics related to energy security and transparency. In 2015, David Goldwyn was the co-director of an Atlantic Council task force chaired by Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Warner, which culminated in a report, “Empowering America: How Energy Abundance Can US Global Leadership” (Atlantic Council 2015). Mr. Goldwyn is the author of “Drilling Down: The Civil Society Guide to Extractive Industry Revenues and the EITI” (Revenue Watch Institute 2008).

Giovani Machado is the head of the Natural Gas and Biofuels Department at the Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (EPE), Brazil’s Energy Planning Agency. He joined the Energy Research Office at EPE in 2006 and has held various management positions within the Directory of Oil, Gas, and Biofuels. Mr. Machado has published on energy issues and is a reviewer for international energy journals. He has expertise in oil and gas geopolitics and prices, gas infrastructure planning, energy modeling and forecast, and energy sector policy and regulation. In the past, Mr. Machado has been a visiting scholar at the US Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a coordinator of strategic studies at the National Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Biofuels Agency of Brazil, and a fellow professor in energy economics with the Energy Planning Program at the Alberto Luiz Coimbra Institute for Graduate Studies and Research in Engineering, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Additionally, Mr. Machado has worked as a professor and program coordinator in energy business at Getulio Vargas Foundation. He has also worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency as an ad hoc international expert in energy sustainable development and energy modeling issues. Mr. Machado studied economics at the Federal Fluminense University and he holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in energy planning from the Graduate School of Engineering at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Sue Saarnio is the acting deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Energy Resources of the US Department of State. She previously served as a senior advisor in the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental, and Scientific Affairs. Prior to that, she served as the deputy assistant secretary of state for Canada, Mexico, and Regional Economic Policy in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. She is a career foreign service officer with more than thirty years of experience on international trade and economic issues in the US State Department. Ms. Saarnio served as director of Canadian Affairs at the State Department and as the minister counselor for Economic Affairs at the US Embassy in Ottawa, responsible for the bilateral economic, trade, energy, and environment relationship. She served in the State Department’s Economic, Energy and Business Affairs Bureau as deputy special representative for Commercial and Business Affairs and director for Multilateral Trade Affairs. She served as the US special advisor for Conflict Diamonds representing the US government in the multilateral Kimberley Process from 2005 to 2008 leading implementation of the US Clean Diamond Trade Act. She has served at embassies in Mexico City, Panama, Nicaragua and Tunisia, and at the US Consulate General in Jerusalem. Prior to her government service, Ms. Saarnio worked as a journalist in Montana and Minnesota. She is a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and attended the American University in Cairo, Egypt.