Ecuador declares energy emergency as El Nino-fueled drought hits region


April 17, 2024


Ecuador declares energy emergency as El Nino-fueled drought hits region

Ecuador's President Daneil Noboa/Photo: Reuters

ECUADOR: Ecuador has been plunged into an energy emergency as a severe regional drought exacerbated by the El Nino weather phenomenon has forced Colombia to halt the export of electricity to its neighbor, Al Jazeera reported.

Addressing the situation in Guayaquil, Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa acknowledged the gravity of the country’s energy predicament.

“Today we took a strong decision – once again we had to – which is to declare an emergency in the country’s energy sector,” Noboa said.

Both Colombia and Ecuador rely heavily on hydropower plants to meet their energy needs.

However, the drought has led to a sharp decline in water levels, particularly in reservoirs crucial for electricity generation.

A minimum water flow is necessary to drive the turbines powering hydroelectric plants.

Yet, Colombia’s electricity operator XM has reported that reservoirs across the country are at only 29.8 percent of their capacity.

Consequently, Colombia has begun rationing water in areas such as Bogota, its capital.

Colombia’s Minister of Mining and Energy, Andres Camacho, on Monday said that the country was taking steps to address the drought by scaling back electricity exports.

“Since Easter week, we limited energy exports to Ecuador. Right now, we are not exporting any electricity,” Camacho said.

In response, Ecuador’s Minister Andrea Arrobo Pena issued a statement on Monday acknowledging the “unprecedented situations” facing the country and the wider region.

She announced plans for power outages and rationing to mitigate the energy shortages.

“The length of the drought, the increase in climate temperatures, the lack of maintenance in the entire electrical system’s infrastructure in previous years and the presence of historically low water-flow levels have caused all available management plants to be activated,” her department said in a statement.

Arrobo Pena also appealed to Ecuadorians to support efforts to reduce energy consumption during the crisis.

“Therefore, we make a civic call to all Ecuadorians to support efforts to reduce energy consumption during this critical week, considering that every drop of water and every unconsumed kilowatt counts as we face this reality together.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, President Noboa announced the resignation of Minister Arrobo Pena. He hinted at corruption and sabotage within the energy sector.

“We have initiated an investigation for sabotage in certain areas and power plants,” he wrote on social media. Noboa pledged to apply “the full weight of the law” to any wrongdoing uncovered during the inquiry, emphasising the need to combat entrenched corruption in the country’s energy sector.

“The problems in Ecuador’s energy sector in recent years are not due to a lack of technical proposals, but to a lack of execution and firmness in combating entrenched corruption,” Noboa asserted, Al Jazeera reported.