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Controversy in Bolivia about the true volume of proven natural gas reserves

Monday, April 11th 2011 - 05:47 UTC
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President Evo Morales can’t be sure how much gas the country has President Evo Morales can’t be sure how much gas the country has

Bolivia has fallen from second to sixth place in the ranking of largest holder of proven natural gas reserves in South America, with Peru behind Venezuela as the two leading countries, admitted a Bolivian Hydrocarbons Association, or CBH, report.

Venezuela holds 200 trillion cubic feet of gas, while Peru has 16 TCF, thanks to new discoveries; Trinidad and Tobago, 15.3 TCF; Argentina, 13.2 TCF; Brazil, 13 TCF; Bolivia, 10.5 TCF; and Colombia, 4.4 TCF, according to CBH.

The report marks the first time that private association CBH, which represents gas companies operating in Bolivia, has taken into account other reliable information concerning a drop in the country’s natural gas reserves.

The opposition and the press accuse President Evo Morales’ administration of insisting on keeping the data from becoming public.

Furthermore a report issued by US consulting firm Ryder Scott and kept secret by Morales’ administration puts Bolivia’s reserves at 8.3 TCF, or about a third of what Bolivia previously thought it had.

State-owned Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos, YPFB, the main operator in Bolivia’s gas industry since the 2006 nationalization, has asked Ryder Scott to make changes to the report before it is made public.

In 2005, Dallas-based petroleum consulting company DeGolyer & MacNaughton said Bolivia had 26.7 TCF of proven reserves and held the second-largest gas reserves in South America behind Venezuela.

YPFB has officially said the report issued before President Morales took office, inflated reserves to benefit the private energy companies that dominated the sector at that time.

Foreign companies that operate in minority partnerships with YPFB say they need legal guarantees before making investments to ensure exports to Brazil and Argentina and a sufficient supply of gas to the domestic market can be complied with.

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