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Navigating the Storm: Building Energy Resilience for a Sustainable Future in South America

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On April 12, 2024, from 8:00 am – 1:30 pm CDT (UTC -5:00), the Texas A&M Energy Institute and the Universidad Privada de Santa Cruz de la Sierra (UPSA) will co-host a special workshop titled, “Navigating the Storm: Building Energy Resilience for a Sustainable Future in South America.”

The event will feature speakers with expertise on energy issues from across South America, and is offered as a part of the “MOISES” (Modeling an Intelligent Sustainable Energy System) program with funding from the US Embassy in Bolivia.

Led by Dr. Stratos Pistikopoulos, the Director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute, MOISES seeks to address the challenges faced by Bolivia’s energy sector. By leveraging academic dialogue, exchange of experiences, scenario planning, and modeling, the project aims to pave the way for a more sustainable energy future for Bolivia, as well as create a model of action for stakeholders to cooperate.  Dr. Oscar W. Serrate, the Dean of Engineering at UPSA, co-leads project activities in Bolivia.

Workshop Agenda

8:00 am –
8:30 am
8:30 am –
8:45 am
Welcome and MOISES Program RemarksProfessor Stratos Pistikopoulos Director, Texas A&M Energy Institute
Professor Oscar Serrate Dean of Engineering, UPSA
8:45 am –
9:30 am
“Data-driven surface and subsurface simulation for decarbonization of the Oil & Gas Industry”Professor Eduardo Gildin Professor of Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M University
9:30 am –
10:15 am
“Interconnected Futures: Integrating Industries for Brazil’s Sustainable Energy Transition”Professor Gustavo R. S. Assi Professor of Renewable Energy Technologies, University of São Paulo
10:15 am –
10:30 am
Coffee Break
10:30 am –
11:15 am
“Energy justice perspectives on challenges to wind farms in Brazil’s northeastern region”
(Authors: Christian Brannstrom and Adryane Gorayeb)
Professor Christian Brannstrom Professor of Geography, Texas A&M University 
11:15 am –
12:00 pm
“Empowering Cities: Building Resilient Urban Energy Systems”Javier Garduño Lead, Resilient Cities Network (R-Cities) for Latin America and the Caribbean
Heber Y. Parra Hernández Energy Expert, Resilient Cities Network (R-Cities) for Latin America and the Caribbean
12:00 pm –
12:30 pm
“Venezuela’s energy landscape: an overview of the oil and gas sector alongside renewable potential”Inti Rodriguez Hernandez Student, Texas A&M Energy Institute
12:30 pm –
1:00 pm
“Brazil, a successful case of sustainable energy matrix in South America”Oteniel Epalanga Student, Texas A&M Energy Institute
1:00 pm –
1:30 pm
Reflections, Summary, and Closing
1:30 pmLunch


Professor Eduardo Gildin 

Professor of Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M University 

Data-driven surface and subsurface simulation for decarbonization of the Oil & Gas Industry 


Sustainable hydrocarbon production in light of a decarbonization paradigm demands complex decision-support strategies involving fast risk assessment and optimal production scheduling. At the core of these decisions is the prediction of reservoir performance and surface networks (e.g., CO2 pipeline), usually done by running computationally demanding complex simulators. As a substitute, physics-aware machine learning (ML) techniques have been used to endow data-driven proxy models with features closely related to the ones encountered in nature, especially conservation laws. They can lead to fast, reliable, and interpretable simulations used in many reservoir management workflows. In this talk, I will build upon our recently developed deep-learning-based reduced-order modeling framework for fast and reliable proxy for reservoir simulation. I will show examples in C02 sequestration and storage and in designing large C02 pipeline networks. 


Dr. Eduardo Gildin is a Professor of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University and is the holder of the Rob L. Adams ’40 Professor in Petroleum Engineering.  Dr. Gildin received his PhD from The University of Texas at Austin in Aerospace Engineering and has held post-doctoral positions with Rice University and UT Austin before joining the Petroleum Engineering Department at Texas A&M as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure in 2015, and then Professor in 2021.  He also holds an MS in Mechatronics (University of Sao Paulo) and a BS in Mechanical Engineering (FEI), both from Brazil.  Dr. Gildin teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the mathematics of reservoir simulation, data analytics and reduced-order modeling and has published more than 120 papers in peer-reviewed journals and conferences. His research has been supported by grants from NSF, DOE, DOD, NASA and Industry, with main topics in (1) physics-based and data-driven reduced-order modeling for reservoir simulation and optimization; and (2) drilling modeling, control and automation. Dr. Gildin was an Associate Editor for SPEJ and has been involved in technical committees within SPE, especially with the Reservoir Simulation Conference, LACPEC and several SPE workshops. Dr. Gildin was inducted into the SPE Distinguish Membership in 2021 and was the recipient of the Texas A&M “Dean of Engineering Excellence Award – Associate Professor” (2018) and the College of Engineering Outstanding Contributions Award (2020). 

Professor Gustavo R. S. Assi

Professor of Renewable Energy Technologies, University of São Paulo

Interconnected Futures: Integrating Industries for Brazil’s Sustainable Energy Transition


Brazil’s energy landscape is anchored by its historically clean energy mix. As the nation looks to the future, the imperative is clear: more energy must be produced with fewer emissions. This challenge has fostered a strategic reevaluation of Brazil’s energy portfolio, emphasizing the need for innovative solutions and integrated approaches to meet rising energy demands while mitigating environmental impact. Among Brazil’s notable achievements is the production of second-generation ethanol, a model of energy efficiency within the energy sector with considerable potential for carbon capture. Furthermore, the evolution of Brazil’s offshore oil and gas industry towards embracing new energy frontiers, including hydrogen-based routes and carbon capture and storage technologies, signifies a transformative shift towards a more sustainable energy future. This presentation will examine Brazil’s energy transition, identifying key challenges and possible routes for sustainable energy development through industry integration and technological innovation.


Professor of Renewable Energy and Energy Transition Technologies at the Department of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering, University of São Paulo, Brazil. Deputy Director of OTIC Offshore Technology Innovation Centre. Member of the Specialist Committee on Ocean Renewable Energy of the ITTC International Towing Tank Conference. A Naval Engineer from USP and PhD in Aeronautics from Imperial College London, worked as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford (2013-14), Caltech (2016-17) and currently at Texas A&M University (2023-24). Research topics include fluid-structure interaction, flow-induced vibration, experimental and computational fluid dynamics, ocean renewable energy, engineering education, science communication, and philosophy of technology.

Professor Christian Brannstrom

Professor of Geography, Texas A&M University

Energy justice perspectives on challenges to wind farms in Brazil’s northeastern region


(Authors: Christian Brannstrom and Adryane Gorayeb)

Brazil has become a globally significant country in terms of installed capacity for wind and solar power, but significant social challenges have emerged. Challenges are considered from two perspectives: first, results from a comparative case study show wide variation in support for wind farms among host communities and suggest that perceived or real economic benefits will generate support for wind farms, especially when those benefits strengthened livelihoods and land-tenure security. Second, results from a countermapping study of fishing communities indicate that offshore wind farms have high likelihood to severely disrupt artisanal fishing activities, leading to significant livelihood impacts that may enhance social movements opposed to offshore wind farms and political responses disrupting renewable power investments.


Christian Brannstrom holds the David Bullock Harris Endowed Professorship in Geosciences and is senior associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences. His recent work analyzes reasons for host community support and opposition to wind farms in northeastern Brazil. He was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Uruguay from March to June 2023, where he taught Geography of Energy and studied the social acceptance of wind farms. The National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, Texas Sea Grant, and an energy firm have supported his research. 

Adryane Gorayeb is an Associate Professor and Director of the Department of Geography, Federal University of Ceará, Brazil. Her work focuses on the themes of participatory mapping, social cartography, and socio-environmental impacts of wind energy and green hydrogen. She is also coordinator of the Laboratory of Geoprocessing and Social Cartography and currently leads the Brazilian Wind Energy Observatory. Her work has been funded by CNPq and CAPES.

Javier Garduño and Heber Y. Parra Hernández

Resilient Cities Network (R-Cities) for Latin America and the Caribbean

Empowering Cities: Building Resilient Urban Energy Systems


In an era of unprecedented challenges, achieving energy resilience in cities is imperative. Our presentation will delve into the concept of energy resilience, exploring its multifaceted dimensions and highlighting its critical importance in ensuring safe and reliable energy access for urban residents. Drawing from our experience with the Urban Power program, we will showcase how cities can identify gaps in their energy systems and develop innovative solutions to enhance resilience. Additionally, we will introduce the City Energy Resilience Framework (CERF), a comprehensive tool designed to guide cities in applying a resilience lens to their power systems. Through real-world examples and practical insights, we will demonstrate the transformative potential of rethinking urban energy and fostering a sustainable, equitable, and resilient future for all.

Javier Garduño

Javier is a specialist in urban planning, mobility, and urban development. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from CIDE, as well as a Master’s degree in Urban Studies from El Colegio de México. He has held various positions, including roles as a Consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank in the Urban Development and Housing Division and the Transport Division (June 2016 – November 2018); and Coordinator of the Fiscal Justice Program at Fundar, a mexican think tank (January 2016 – December 2017). Javier has experience in the government sector at the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit and the Ministry of Finance of Mexico City. He worked for over 6 years in various civil society organizations promoting an open and progressive budget regime that prioritizes mobility and sustainable urban development.

From 2018 to 2022, he served as Head of the Planning and Institutional Development Unit at SEDATU (Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development), where he was responsible for the preparation and monitoring of the sectoral planning framework, as well as the coordination of international and gender affairs for the Ministry.

Currently, Javier is responsible for the Latin America and the Caribbean region within the Resilient Cities Network.

Heber Y. Parra Hernández

Heber Parra is an engineer and energy specialist with more than 15 years of experience in the development and implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

He has collaborated with several corporations and industries in energy saving measures and sustainable solutions, helping in the identification of projects to reduce energy consumption, optimize their performance and promote actions for the decarbonization.

He is currently a Senior Consultant for R-Cities supporting LAC cities in the identification of energy resilience strategies, GHG emission reductions, equitable energy access and co-benefits to strengthen the economic development and social welfare of the region, as well as guiding city governments in the evaluation of their energy systems to support the fulfillment of their energy transition commitments and urban resilience goals.

Inti Rodriguez Hernandez

Student, Texas A&M Energy Institute

Venezuela’s energy landscape: an overview of the oil and gas sector alongside renewable potential


Venezuela boasts some of the world’s largest proven oil and natural gas reserves, positioned to play a significant role in shaping the future energy landscape of South America and beyond. This presentation provides an overview of Venezuela’s oil and gas industry, examining the geological distribution of its hydrocarbon reserves. Special attention is given to the abundant natural gas reservoirs, highlighting their potential to serve as a crucial transitional resource in the global energy matrix. Moreover, this presentation explores Venezuela’s renewable energy potential, recognizing the nation’s historical reliance on hydroelectric power generation. While emphasizing existing hydroelectric resources, the discussion extends to the feasibility and promise of other renewable sources, such as wind, solar, and geothermal energy. Key insights are provided into prospective renewable energy projects, reflecting a concerted effort to diversify the country’s energy portfolio. Venezuela’s primary challenge lies in formulating a strategy aimed at supporting its renewable energy potential, despite its significant reliance on fossil fuels. The objective is to create an environment where renewable energy can seamlessly complement existing energy sources within Venezuela’s energy landscape, a challenge that is common in other Latin American countries as well.

Oteniel Epalanga

Student, Texas A&M Energy Institute

Brazil, a successful case of sustainable energy matrix in South America


The desired development of nations is intricacy related with provision not just of water and food, but also with access to energy. The global discussion about CO2 emissions compels all major industries to review their acts and adapt their standards in order to help decrease global warming that the world is facing. This presentation aims to highlight the Brazilian energy model as a successful case of sustainability that could be followed in South America. 

Meanwhile, going through the policy and technical solutions that Brazil chooses, this presentation will point out how a well industrialized country, with huge fossil resources, is increasing its sustainability in terms of energy generation and consumption.


Oteniel Epalanga was born in Angola, in the central west of Africa. He arrived in Brazil, seeking his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He spent about 10 years exploring the energy sector in the south of Brazil, working on hydro, wind, and solar projects. During the past 8 years, he was leading a company as an executive director looking for the best ways to optimize land in Angola. Oteniel Epalanga has a certificate in Advanced Management Program, from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Nowadays, he’s seeking his master’s degree in Science of Energy at Texas A&M University – Energy Institute.