Natural gas consumption and poverty in Bolivia

Natural gas consumption and poverty in Bolivia

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There is no more enjoyable situation than write a paper without pressure… only for fun, in fact, one can allow some concessions not always supported with some institutions. One of this concessions is to share some preliminary results of the investigation. In this sense, I want to present some data related with households energy consumption, in particular, the energy used for cooking.

For the curious reader i want to comment that the data source is the household surveys made by the Bolivian statistics office (INE) and I analyze the question is: What type of fuel or energy do you use for cook? While families use other energy sources as well (eg in the shower), I’ll focus in the cooking area because these household surveys are general, they don’t do specific questions on energy consumption. By the way… I’m «walking» with public institutions (since some years ago) trying to convince to do this type of survey… I mean, energy surveys.

Well , let’s go to the data. The table presented below shows the energy consumption for cook at the aggregate level in Bolivia, for the period 2005-2012. What is striking in this table? Well, firewood consumption decreased and LPG and natural gas increased , in fact, the figures for natural gas are very good ones, in 2005 only 3% of households used this product for cooking, while in year 2012 this rose to 11%. How would my good friend Jose Espinoza will say: «Albricias»

Well… «albricias» yes, but not too much. When this information is segmented by poor households in urban and rural areas (next table), the situation is less encouraging. The following table present energy consumption for poor households in urban areas, we can see how LPG was replaced by natural gas, for example, in 2005 87% of these households used LPG and only 2 % natural gas; by 2012 83 % used LPG and 12 % natural gas.

In the rural sector (next table), what happened is a gradual replacement of wood by LPG (not natural gas) , although these data do not catch my attention, since it is very difficult for natural gas to reach rural areas. What worries me is the use of LPG by poor families… Why do I care ? Because this LPG price in Bolivia is subsidized, then remove the subsidy will lead to a not negligible «social engineering «.

My good friends, as always was a pleasure to share these numbers with you. At the end I want to share a story of Santi (my son):

– Dad, Why are the walls of the houses have cut glasses? (Santi)

– To keep out thieves my son – (Me)

– Dad.. what if they are not stupid? (Santi)

A hug!

Mauricio Medinaceli Monrroy

La Paz, May 9, 2014.