Photos: PB-KU-H. Northeast Marine Region. ABB Mexico 2007; and ATA Renewable 2019
In Mexico for several years, the voice of Miriam Grunstein in the forums where public policies on hydrocarbons are analyzed has almost always been present, an acute reflection without unconventional ties and difficult not to consider.
A lawyer by the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico and a PhD in letters from the School of Sciences and Arts of the University of New York, Miriam does not miss the analysis of the evolution of the large international oil companies evaluating their conquests and pointing out their great challenges to those who have faced each other in more ways than one.
From his professional field he has participated in the realization of regulatory instruments for large-scale energy projects in which firms such as Petróleos Mexicanos, Shell, Chevron-Texaco and Sempra have been involved.
And in the field of legal consulting, he has participated in offices such as: Thompson & Knight, Chadbourne & Parke, and Holand & Knight, in which he has led large-scale projects in gas pipelines, LNG terminals, permits for power plants, contracts for leasing of oil platforms, natural gas contracts of large acquirers and has been a member of international arbitration teams in energy matters.
But everything seems to indicate that Miriam has reached the moment of her personal Energy Transition, reaching a greater degree of sensitivity by increasing her contact with nature and with the people who most need guidance to overcome the stage of energy poverty in the which one you are
Today, pv-magazine México, presents the first part of a talk with Dr. Grunstein in which she describes, in general terms, the moment in which our country is in the field of hydrocarbons to immediately enter into issues of the Transition Energy and then get to the issue of photovoltaic energy, a matter that is increasingly demanding of his time and knowledge.
Here is the first of three parts of our interview with who is a founding partner of Brilliant Energy and Environment Consulting.
Dr. Miriam Grunstein
Pv magazine Mexico: How do you describe the moment in which the hydrocarbons sector in our country is going through?
Miriam Grunstein: We are in a frank crisis of energy security, we have a production that is reported as stable, but since there is no transparency in this government then the data is not verifiable by anyone.
Because who produces and issues the data, has a strong political interest to misrepresent the figures. Even here it is important to note that we had a somewhat shameful episode in which Petróleos Mexicanos reported declining production and the President went out to say that he had other data, this famous phrase that has characterized our first president and this is very worrying because:
• First, we Mexicans have the right to know the state of production of our most valuable public resource, and
• Secondly, it is a terrible signal for the markets than our most important public asset and in which there is more potential to investment be immersed in this opacity right now
Pv magazine Mexico: After this general overview that you describe in relation to the national oil industry, I now ask you to give us your first opinion on how big oil companies understand concepts such as Energy Transition, Climate Change, etc.
Miriam Grunstein: These concepts contain many things.
The Energy Transition can be a measure of prevention or mitigation of a phenomenon that seems increasingly evident, as we have a climate crisis in sight.
For example, we have had terrible episodes generated or caused by human beings and partly also by natural phenomena. A few months ago we had the terrible situation in the Amazon Jungle or the ecological disaster that is still happening in Australia.
Therefore, there is a huge threat against the biosphere, the melting of glaciers or the serious fires also recorded in Veracruz; Then we have an increasingly delicate ecosystem and environment.
That said, I want to mention that some oil companies and I will reserve the names, because I think it is the most ethical, they are taking into account that there is a problem of sustainability partly for ethical reasons and partly for market reasons.
The people of my generation who are over fifty years old are not going to be the big consumers of the energy of the future, the big consumers are being born and they are also around 30 or 35 years old today; Speaking in demographic terms, this population aims to consume energy generated from renewable sources.
For example, in the United Kingdom, cars with internal combustion will be banned and this will cause an electric car boom, which will already have a certain degree of obsolescence, at least in some markets and in some parts of the world.
Now, I consider that for reasons that the big oil companies are studying their market seriously and consciously, some of these firms are already investing huge financial and human capital resources to study the possibility of developing alternative and not necessarily renewable energies.
Pv magazine Mexico: The concept of Energy Transition does not arise precisely from the world of the hydrocarbon industry ... It arises from countries such as Germany, Northern Europe ...
Miriam Grunstein: Yes, of course, Germany did not want to depend on Russian gas for a totally geopolitical motive and they also had to boost the market placement of their solar infrastructure.
Pv magazine Mexico: Do you find resistance within the big oil companies to understand and then to implement actions that are in line with what is the Energy Transition?
Miriam Grunstein: The speech I see in modern oil companies and not necessarily in our state oil company (PEMEX) is that "everything is necessary."
Hydrocarbons may decrease their presence in the world of electricity generation, but not in petrochemicals. The industrial processes that are going to produce everything we consume are not generated either by the sun or by the wind or tidal energy.
Even the inputs to produce technology for the Renewable Energy industry come from industrial processes that are strongly demanding of hydrocarbons.
In some event of the Australia, New Zealand and Mexico Alliance, ANZMEX, Chris Sladen, who is an endearing figure, even though he has left our country, said something that seems to me a truth about the size of a cathedral: “We need it all” (We need everything).
Then, the intelligent oil companies with that phrase of we need it all , will not compete against the Energy Transition will join to compete within the Energy Transition.
Smart oil companies, which have a vision of future generations who know what their market will not oppose the Energy Transition but will get into it and will compete with other companies that are dedicated only to clean energy and will to enter the quite in that market.
Pv magazine Mexico: What would these big oil companies have to do to modify their vision, let's call their “DNA”, so that they make a new hierarchy within their processes such as extraction, production, refining, petrochemicals and now include the topic of Clean energy within your energy supply?
Miriam Grunstein: Refining is a real toothache for oil companies because it is a large infrastructure is polluting and in many countries they no longer want them; for example, Australia closed its last refinery and is now an importer of gasoline and petrochemicals from Singapore, which for them is a nearby market.
Refining as a link in the value chain of the hydrocarbons industry and this has been said to the point of weariness, the profit margins of refining are very low when compared to the links of exploration and production and the commercialization of fuels Automotive
Refining is like the ugly sandwich sister of the hydrocarbon value chain, so you can do without it. How much better!
Pv magazine Mexico: And the faster the better ...
Miriam Grunstein: Yes ... What happens in terms of the conversion of automotive fleets, that process will be expensive. Here countries with a high degree of development will do so much faster than developing countries.
In Mexico, for example, the conversion could be catastrophic for the mobility of the population that has fewer resources.
I do see a change in the discourse of the big oil companies except some that are very conservative in their principles!
Pv magazine Mexico: An emblematic case of innovative oil companies that came to be called a “global energy company” was Petrobras until before the corruption messes that not only disrupted the foundations of that company but of many others and of entire governments in South America ...
Miriam Grunstein: This is just what is interesting. Many oil companies today are no longer just " Oil & Gas Company " now they are " Energy Companies ".
Now, Petrobras is reinventing itself after the Odebrecht crisis.
Pv magazine Mexico: Shell, the Anglo-Dutch company, is one of the oil companies that seems to take the lead in terms of leadership in an Energy Transition from the sphere of hydrocarbons.
Miriam Grunstein: Well, you already mentioned the brand and not me. Now, Shell carries the strongest flag in terms of sustainability that I have seen.
They sent a Climate Change expert here to Mexico City and showed a very interesting graph that illustrated in a very beautiful way what Chris Sladen, who was the CEO of BP in Mexico, said: We need it all .
And it is not that oil is going to come out of the energy mix equation because that is neither economically nor technologically viable even in the medium term because we also have a giant hydrocarbon surplus for the era of the “shale revolution” in the United States, but a transformation in the energy matrix can be generated.