LA PAZ – Bolivia’s government said Thursday it would invest some $6.3 billion through 2020 to boost the Andean nation’s installed power capacity to some 4,800 megawatts – up from 1,800 MW at present – with a view to exporting electricity.
Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera unveiled the investment figure during a seminar at the Oruro Technical University, where he explained the government’s plan to transform Bolivia into the Southern Cone’s energy hub.
He justified President Evo Morales’ decision to make a push for electricity production rather than focus exclusively on exports of natural gas, which Bolivia currently sells to Brazil and Argentina.
Bolivia presently receives around $5 per million British Thermal Units – which measure thermal energy – on its natural gas exports, whereas if that same quantity of BTUs were used to produce electricity for export the earnings would double, the vice president said.
In recent months, the price of Bolivia’s natural gas has plummeted due to a sharp drop in the price of petroleum, used as a reference price for its contracts with Argentina and Brazil.
In the first 10 months of 2015, Bolivia earned $3.45 billion on its exports of natural gas and small quantities of petroleum, down 39 percent from the $5.64 billion it earned in January-October 2014, the Bolivian Statistics Institute said.
Investments in electricity will be earmarked to boost production of hydroelectric, thermoelectric, wind and solar energies, among other sources.