Bolivia earns $16 bn from energy industry

La Paz, May 3 (IANS/EFE) Bolivia has earned more than $16 billion from the energy industry since President Evo Morales nationalized the sector in 2006, officials said.

“Seven years before the nationalization, from 1999 to 2005, the state received around $2 billion. After these seven years, the state received more than $16 billion,” Hydrocarbons Minister Juan Jose Sosa said.

Morales issued an executive order May 1, 2006, nationalizing the seven oil companies, the majority of them foreign firms, operating in Bolivia.

The government later acquired stakes in the nationalized units of Spain’s Repsol and Brazil’s Petrobras, and it forced other companies, such as Argentina’s Pluspetrol and France’s Total to negotiate new contracts.

Energy industry investment nearly tripled from $1.86 billion in the five-year period before nationalization to $5.24 billion in the 2006-12 period, state-owned oil company YPFB said.

Natural gas production nearly doubled over the past seven years from 35 million cubic meters per day to 60 million cubic meters per day, YPFB CEO Carlos Villegas said.

The government plans to fulfill another of the promises made by Morales before taking office in 2006, opening a facility to put Bolivia’s vast natural gas resources to industrial uses, Villegas said.

A plant that will separate the gas liquids exported to Brazil will open May 10 in the eastern region of Santa Cruz, the YPFB CEO said.

–IANS/EFE

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