LA PAZ – Bolivia will increase natural gas shipments to Argentina this year to 11.6 million cubic meters (409 million cubic feet) per day thanks to the start-up of a new gas-processing plant, the country’s top energy executive said.
The president of state energy firm Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos, Carlos Villegas, told a press conference Tuesday that gas output this year will increase to an average of 51.9 million cubic meters per day, or between 8.5 million-9 million cmd more than in 2011.
That additional production will ensure supplies to export markets, “especially to Argentina.”
“This year we’ll increase ... exports of gas to Argentina from 7.5 (million) to 11.6 million cubic meters per day,” Villegas said.
That increase will be possible once a gas-processing plant being built by Spain’s Repsol-YPF comes online at the Margarita gas field in the southern province of Tarija in April, the YPFB chief said.
The new facility will enable production at Margarita – regarded as Bolivia’s largest gas field, although its total reserves have not been officially calculated – to rise from 3 million cmd to 9 million cmd.
Repsol-YPF operates the Caipipendi block, where the Margarita gas field and neighboring Huacaya field are located, with a 37.5 percent stake, while partners Britain’s BG Group and Argentina-based Pan American Energy hold 37.5 percent and 25 percent interests, respectively.
The gas-supply contract with Argentina stipulates minimum shipments of 7.7 million cmd, although that volume is expected to rise to 27.7 million cmd by 2017.
A separate contract with Brazil calls for Bolivia to ship the South American giant a minimum of 24 million cmd and a maximum of 31 million cmd.
Shipments of natural gas to Brazil are “seasonal” in that demand falls between October and March but rises to as high as 30 million cmd between May and September, Villegas said Tuesday.
Bolivian natural gas production averaged 45 million cmd in 2011, while the country earned more than $2.9 billion from gas exports.
The Andean nation’s natural gas industry will receive “historic” levels of investment this year, YPFB said.
The state company and its subsidiaries plan to invest $1.3 billion (64 percent of the total), while private energy firms operating in Bolivia will invest the remaining $735.5 million.
Last April, YPFB announced that Houston-based energy consultant Ryder Scott had calculated Bolivia’s proven gas reserves at 9.94 trillion cubic feet, or just a third of the official reserves figure in 2005.
But a large gas find by France’s Total later that same month boosted Bolivia’s reserves to nearly 13 trillion cubic feet. EFE