Brazil’s Petrobras studying new projects in Bolivia


Rio de Janeiro : Brazil’s state-owned oil major Petrobras, which has suspended new investment in Bolivia since La Paz took controlling stakes in the nation’s natural gas fields, is studying new projects in that neighbouring country.

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Petrobras is also looking at taking over a Bolivian gas field now operated by French oil major Total, Spanish news agency EFE said Tuesday.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva hopes to announce the return of investments by Petrobras in Bolivia on the trip he will make to La Paz next month, presidential foreign affairs adviser Marco Aurelio Garcia said.

He said that everything was still at the negotiation stage, but Petrobras was studying new investments to explore natural gas in Bolivia.

“The Bolivian government is ready to give all the necessary guarantees for that,” the presidential adviser said.

Petrobras, the largest foreign firm operating in Bolivia, was one of the companies that was most affected by Bolivian President Evo Morales’ May 2006 decree “nationalizing” the country’s hydrocarbon sector.

Garcia has confirmed that Brazil was interested in increasing imports of Bolivian gas as long as there are guarantees regarding supply and Petrobras’ investments.

Last week, Bolivian Hydrocarbons Minister Carlos Villegas said that his government and Brazil had agreed on a working agenda to deal with possible new investments by Petrobras in his country.

Morales’ “nationalization” programme was aimed at claiming for the Bolivian state a much bigger share of the revenues generated by the country’s estimated 48 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. No firms had their assets seized and all of the foreign energy companies signed revised contracts with La Paz.