The Energy Situation in Brazil - an Overview
By far the largest and most populous country in Latin America, Brazil represents half the continent’s surface area, population and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Brazil’s GDP ranks ninth in the world, just ahead of Russia. As such, Brazil also aspires to a leadership role on the international scene, and is one of the BRIC1 countries. Leader of the G20 group in the World Trade Organization (WTO), it plays an increasingly important role as an observer in OECD committees, representing the views of a large developing country in a consensual fashion. Brazil's current peacekeeping role in Haiti demonstrates its greater international involvement in security issues, a crucial step for a country aspiring to a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
Brazil presently is the 10th greatest energy consuming country accounting for about 2.1% of the world's annual total energy consumption and the fourth largest non-IEA energy consumer after China, India, and Russia (2003 data). Brazil's proven oil reserves are estimated (as of January 2006) at about 13 billion barrels, second greatest in South America (after Venezuela).
On the international energy scene, Brazil has achieved a visible presence thanks to its unique energy profile. Having achieved self-sufficiency in crude oil in 2006, it is also a hub for regional energy integration, especially for the development of the gas market; it stands as the world leader in ethanol use and production, and the predominant role of hydropower in electricity generation results in very low emissions from its power sector. These specific energy features underpin the country’s ambition to take on a more proactive role in regional organizations like the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) as vectors to disseminate Brazil’s biofuels experience to other Latin American countries. At the World Economic Forum in Sao Paulo on April 5-6 of this year, a plenary session concluded that “Brazil is a world reference for the development of the biofuels market because of its welldeveloped domestic ethanol fuel market and recent biodiesel initiatives”. From the same perspective, Brazil’s renewed eagerness to collaborate with international energy organizations such as the IEA can be viewed as an opportunity to project itself as a world champion in specific energy technologies, notably in ethanol production and bagasse cogeneration.