Bolivia: Petrobras using Venezuela to enforce gas negotiations

The president of Bolivia's state petroleum company said Monday that suggestions Brazil could buy cheaper gas elsewhere were meant to pressure his company as it negotiates new deals with neighboring countries. Ildo Sauer, director of gas and energy for Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, said recently his country could save US$30 million ( Ђ 25.1 million) per day by buying gas from Venezuela rather than Bolivia.

Jorge Alvarado, president of Yacimientos Petroleros Fiscales de Bolivia, said the possibility of Venezuela selling gas to Brazil at one-third of the Bolivian price is "unreal." "I don't find this information very credible and it seeks to pressure Bolivia while it's trying to negotiate new prices with Brazil and Argentina," Alvarado said.

Alvarado blamed the Argentine and Brazilian press, saying they were looking to "damage the negotiations between the governments of Brazil and Bolivia." President Evo Morales, who took power last month, has vowed to increase state control of the country's vast natural gas reserves as well as get better prices for the gas it sells to Brazil and Argentina.

Brazil relies on Bolivia for most of its gas supply and Petrobras has begun talks with the Bolivian government on renegotiating production and sales contracts.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez recently proposed sending Venezuelan gas to Brazil and Argentina through a 10,000-kilometer (6,200-mile) pipeline. Venezuela has Latin America's largest natural gas reserves, followed by Bolivia. Oil experts say the pipeline project would be a huge technical challenge that could cost as much as US$40 billion ( Ђ 33.5 billion), and environmentalists say it could prompt massive deforestation in Brazil's Amazon region, reports the AP.


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