Interview with Diego Goldin

   Chosen to lead the NGV Global, the main sector entity at worlwide level, Diego Goldin not only considers the designation a great personal honor, but also a recognition of years of dedication and effort in a project who was born in Argentina and has spread literally around the globe. "This appointment recognizes the achievements of the Argentine CNG program due to various factors which have interacted to produce this reality. Our CNG project was unique due to start planning long-term (10-year horizon) and from a public company (Gas del Estado), but in collaboration with private industry and consumers", explained in dialogue with Revista Petroquímica.

   Besides investing in research and development, he says that the local private sector came to win markets in the world and become a leader in all sectors. "Argentina showed that natural gas could go from being an alternative fuel to a fuel alternative, with great social, economic and environmental benefits against liquids. Just are the three pillars that define the sustainability of the global project," he says.

   According to him, in his new office will aim to continue contributing to the development of natural gas use in transportation. "We have to do an strategic plan, which includes work on the drafting of rules and regulations, cooperate with governments that wish to implement the use of this fuel and encourage the technological development and exchange, among other things".

   A great tool to achieve these goals, he adds, is the organization of biannual conferences of NGV Global, the largest event in the industry, along with various seminars, workshops and panel discussions. "One of the most important factors of success in every nation is the active presence of industry associations. A clear example of this is the Argentine CNG Association, full member and founder of NGV Global in 1986, which has had a marked influence in the almost 30 years of existence. I was fortunate to be the Argentine delegate at the founding meeting on behalf of Gas del Estado" he recalls.


How do you define the current status of CNG at the global level?


   The industry of natural gas for transport has an activity never seen before. More and more countries choose to adopt this fuel, because of its advantages compared to traditional ones.

   These advantages given to speak several times, but I'll try to summarize in a few concepts. Natural gas is inherently much cheaper than liquid fuels by their intrinsic conditions, which was always the case. This feature has now been enhanced by technological developments that take advantage of the vast reserves of unconventional reservoirs.

   Obviously with the increase in reserves, the price remains low and produces a "decoupling" of the value of the natural gas commodity and the oil. While crude oil is trading near record highs, the gaseous fluid is close to its minimum. This differential price makes many countries whose budgets are bleeding with fuel subsidies to keep transportation costs low, now can modify its energy matrix through the natural gas.

   Another feature is that natural gas world reserves, as well as being much larger than oil ones, are also much more distributed. This allows many countries achieving energy independence which once seemed impossible.


What about the environmental benefits?


   They are of utmost importance, and are being increasingly recognized and appreciated. Natural gas vehicles produce about 25% less gas transport and reduce to almost zero harmful contaminants, including combustion particles from other heavy fuels.

   I want to emphasize that natural gas is not only use like CNG, as development is occurring constantly in use as liquefied natural gas (LNG). Thus, there is progress on long distance heavy transport, ships and railways. Even Boeing has developed a concept plane to LNG.

   Expanding the supply of natural gas, technological advances in the liquefaction of the fluid and the already mentioned advantages give us the opportunity to exponential growth of the world industry, which will bring very broad social and environmental benefits. All these will be enhanced further with the ongoing development of the use of biomethane (natural gas production from urban and agricultural waste), which transforms real environmental liabilities into carbon neutral fuels for transport.

   The challenge is to continue growing within a policy and regulatory framework to continue to ensure public safety. This framework also leads to increased presence of automotive terminals in the supply of natural gas vehicles. Hence the importance we place on NGV Global participation in all standardization bodies and regulations (ISO, UN, OIML, etc.).


What are the characteristics exhibited by the Argentine market?


   Argentina remains a benchmark in the world for its CNG program. In the country there are some who sometimes refer to a decline or stagnation in the industry. However, the numbers of conversions, which are located at an average of 10.000 new units per month in the last two years, are the envy of many countries. Obviously, if we compare these numbers with the records of 30.000 units per month in 2002 and 2003, it seems little. However, they are significant figures.

   It remains still unresolved natural gas use in heavy transport, which undoubtedly will be incorporated gradually. It is in this one segment where Argentina is neglected as in many developed countries is used CNG trucks and buses for several years with excellent results.

   Today we are exporting art technology for the use of CNG in modern vehicles. These natural gas injection equipment and the development of new vehicles have substantially reduced gas natural specific consumption per vehicle, thus reducing the volume of gas for CNG, despite increasing conversions. Even with the rearrangement of the costs of wellhead gas, the price differential between CNG and liquid fuel is maintained at a level that fully justifies the adoption of natural gas. Moreover, nowadays CNG is an excellent deal for the whole chain, from gas fields producers to users, through all the industry players and even the nation state.


What are the expectations generated by the shale gas business?


   The Argentine shale gas offers almost limitless horizon of resources to continue and expand the national development. CNG and LNG will enable competitive advantage for the entire industry, agriculture and the general population, which will have a clean, cheap and safe transport. Additionally, it will improve the standard of living in urban centers, with its huge environmental benefits.


Revista Petroquímica Petróleo, Gas y Química

April 18, 2013


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