LA PAZ – Bolivia has moved closer to approving six new contracts aimed at confirming the existence of 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in concession areas awarded to units of state-owned energy firm YPFB, the government said.
The contracts will cover the Carohuaicho 8A, Carohuaicho 8B and Oriental areas of eastern Bolivia, the official ABI news agency reported Wednesday, citing Hydrocarbons Minister Luis Alberto Sanchez.
Those areas are believed to contain 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas with an export value of $15 billion, Sanchez said.
Carohuaicho 8A is located in the eastern province of Santa Cruz and is to be operated by YPFB-Chaco, while Carohuaicho 8B also is located in that same province but will be developed by YPFB-Andina, a company in which Spanish energy major Repsol holds a 48.92 stake.
YPFB Chaco and YPFB Andina have an equal stake in Oriental, which straddles the eastern provinces of Santa Cruz and Chuquisaca.
The drilling operations will begin in the coming weeks, according to Sanchez, who said the fields will have a lifespan of between 15 and 20 years.
In a certification process conducted last year, Bolivia’s natural gas reserves were found to total 10.45 trillion cubic feet.
Bolivia has drawn up plans for intense exploration aimed at boosting natural gas reserves, which YPFB says will last until 2023. Some analysts critical of President Evo Morales’ leftist government, however, say the country’s gas reserves will run out in 2017.
The Andean nation’s natural gas exports to Brazil and Argentina are its main source of hard currency.