Colombia Pursues Hydrogen Alliances With UAE and Brazil

Colombian president Gustavo Petro has called on the UAE to invest in green hydrogen projects in La Guajira, while also proposing an alliance between Colombia and Brazil’s biggest domestic petroleum companies.

“A very, very powerful associate, the United Arab Emirates, is going to arrive here,” said Petro on Saturday “and I want to invite them to come and visit Maicao’s Arab community.

“For over a century, we have had an Arab community here constantly speaking with the Wayuu community. These Arab communities of today also need to leave petroleum behind them – they are very powerful and could work together in Maicao to establish, for example, green hydrogen and clean energy projects, but without leaving out the Wayuu.”

La Guajira – the future of Colombian hydrogen?

La Guajira has long been seen as having potential for being the ‘hydrogen capital’ of Colombia, largely due to its abundance of water, sunlight, and wind, as well as its already-existing port.

A study released in January by the Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy and the German Cooperation Agency outlined the benefits this region could bring to the industry as a whole, but equally stressed the importance of cooperating with local communities – such as the indigenous Wayuu people – to allow them to benefit from projects undertaken on their land.

“The Wayuu community can benefit from these processes,” Petro continued. “They can be like the people of Hawai’i – masters of their realm – simply because we know how to ride the new realities of the world.

“We have to know how to ride these new realities, because these new realities can change the destiny of the Wayuu and their culture for the better, and give them all the power.”

The study also outlines the future possibilities of undertaking these projects: a hub of Power-to-X products for transport, such as ammonia, from which it is possible to obtain nitrogen to be used in fertiliser; as well as the blending of natural gases and green hydrogen to supply gas lines both within the country and to the Atlantic coast. It is hoped that these additional advantages may help persuade the UAE to invest in a potential future hotspot for hydrogen production.

A joint project approach

The Colombian president has also proposed a strategic alliance with his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, between the two countries’ biggest oil companies, Ecopetrol and Petrobras, with the hope of maximising potential for green hydrogen production in South America.

“I am proposing to make a joint project for green hydrogen to put us at the forefront of green hydrogen, both in South America and in the world,” said Petro.

He went on to specify that the proposed alliance would integrate public and private capital, and that the energy would be derived from the water, sunlight, and wind that is in abundance in some areas of Colombia.

The president also stressed that the nation’s interest in green hydrogen production was not entirely focussed on the international market, but was instead borne from a need to de-carbonise the country amid continued damage to the Amazon rainforest.

If the rainforest runs out here, there will be no water and Colombia will become uninhabitable

Brazil has been a strong player regarding many South American hydrogen projects, and hosts four of the sixty mega-initiatives on the continent. The country has also signed more than 35 memorandums of understanding with both national and foreign companies for the advancement of green hydrogen and derivatives, with the aim of turning the Brazilian territory of Ceará into an industrial hub for the element.

The proposal marks a significant shift towards the adoption of green hydrogen across South America, benefitting both the economy and the environment. President Lula has yet to respond.

ByLine: Leslie Kerwin