LA PAZ – Bolivian state-owned energy company YPFB has begun an oil exploration campaign in the northwestern Amazonian region of Pando, which is projected to contain some 50 million barrels of crude, or more than the country’s current reserve base of 34 million barrels.
President Evo Morales kicked off the campaign with a ceremony Wednesday in that region that was also attended by Hydrocarbon Minister Luis Alberto Sanchez and YPFB chief Guillermo Acha.
Chinese company Sinopec will conduct 2D seismic surveys over 400 days in the Madre de Dios basin, located in the municipalities of Sena and San Lorenzo, to determine the ideal sites for exploratory well drilling.
“Madre de Dios is one of the world’s most significant oil-generating reservoirs. All we’re doing now is pinpointing the pockets of crude,” Sanchez said.
YPFB plans to invest $48 million in the unprecedented crude exploration campaign in that Amazon region.
The region’s indigenous communities quickly approved the exploration work in legally required consultations, according to Morales, whose administration has encountered opposition to oil prospecting from Indians in other parts of the country.
YPFB is conducting intense crude exploration efforts because its 10.45 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves are projected to be exhausted in a decade at the current pace of consumption.
Morales has set a goal of transforming Bolivia into the “energy heart of South America” and sees exports of fuel and electricity to neighboring countries as crucial to that objective.
Under the fossil-fuel nationalization ordered by the leftist head of state in May 2006, YPFB controls the entire energy supply chain and grants private companies the rights to participate in oil and gas exploration and production activities.