The Business Year

José Marí­a Castro

COLOMBIA - Energy & Mining

Clean and green

General Manager, Sociedad Portuaria el Cayao (SPEC)


José Marí­a Castro is General Manager of SPEC, the LNG import terminal in Colombia. Prior to joining SPEC, he worked as head of business development for Promigas. He has over 18 years of experience in the areas of investment banking, capital markets, project evaluation, and business development in the US and Latin America. He holds a degree in industrial management with minor in industrial engineering from Purdue University, as well as an MBA with a minor in international business from the University of Miami. He has complementary studies in the areas of finance, project management, and operations management.

“The fact that SPEC guarantees the supply of natural gas for electricity generation in the long term ensures Colombia’s energy matrix will maintain its competitiveness and clean energy standing.“

What role does SPEC play in Colombia’s move toward natural gas?
SPEC LNG is the only LNG import terminal in Colombia and a key asset to assure a sustainable and clean energy matrix. Our main role is to guarantee the long-term supply of natural gas for electricity generation in Colombia as we enable the connection to international LNG markets and provide the flexibility needed for the thermal generation in the country.

How does the terminal’s capacity relate to existing demand? What further investments will be necessary with future growth in demand?
On normal hydrology levels, Colombia consumes about 1 billion cbft a day of natural gas, and SPEC LNG represents 40% of that since we have the capacity to regasify 400 million cbft a day. However, our current role is to satisfy the needs of the electrical system by serving our clients, who represent 40% of the installed capacity in thermal generation of the country and 20% of total demand for electricity in Colombia. As for further investments, we do not have concrete plans in the short term but are constantly evaluating opportunities to contribute to the development of LNG markets considering the fact that our terminal is connected to the national grid. Our geographic location is also extremely strategic because we are close to the LNG sources of supply of the region and next to important shipping routes.

What environmental advantages does natural gas present for Colombia, and what does the reliability of natural gas mean for development?
Colombia has been using natural gas for over 45 years and has been successful in its development to different uses, such as residential, commercial, vehicles, industrial, and thermal generation. Colombia’s current energy matrix, which is 70% hydro and 30% thermal, is one of the most competitive and clean matrices of Latin America. The fact that SPEC guarantees the supply of natural gas for electricity generation in the long term ensures Colombia’s energy matrix will maintain its competitiveness and clean energy standing. In addition, considering the potential for renewables that the country has, thermal generation is the best complement for a robust and reliable energy system.

What can we expect from SPEC LNG in 2019?
SPEC will continue to offer the reliability in terms of natural gas supply necessary to meet all Colombia’s electrical needs, more importantly when the probability of the occurrence of an El Niño event during 2019 is high. In the first four months of 2019, we received three LNG carriers and loaded just over 240,000cbm of LNG compared to 550,000cbm of LNG in 2018. The way our terminal will operate during 2019 will depend on several factors, such as hydrology levels, electrical system infrastructure, and thermal generation demand. More importantly, it will offer Colombia the reliability it needs to support its electric demand at any moment.



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