LA PAZ – Brazil’s new ambassador to Bolivia confirmed on Friday that the South American giant would need to import more natural gas and also electricity from the Andean nation in the future, saying negotiations for those energy purchases are underway but will take time to define.
Raymundo Santos Rocha Magno addressed the issue at a press conference in which he reviewed the main bilateral integration projects now under discussion, including the extension of the current 20-year contract for natural gas sales, which expires in 2019.
“Will Brazil have sufficient gas in the future to tell Bolivia it doesn’t does need any more (imports)? I don’t think that’ll be the case,” Rocha Magno said.
He added that as Brazil – currently in recession – recovers its prior growth levels “there will be more need for gas” and Bolivia has the conditions to export that fossil fuel.
Bolivia exports around 32 million cubic meters (1.1 billion cubic feet) of natural gas per day to Brazil at a price of around $5 per million British thermal units, or half the price it received prior to the sharp drop in global energy prices.
Bolivian authorities have said they will seek a higher price in their negotiations with Brazil.
Rocha Magno also highlighted plans for building bi-national power plants, projects that he said were part of the Bolivian government’s vision of transforming the Andean nation into the Southern Cone’s “energy hub.”
“The need for electricity will be very big and Bolivia will certainly be able to export its power to Brazil,” he said.
The plans discussed to date include construction of thermoelectric and hydroelectric plants in Bolivia’s Amazon region.
Those power stations would have a combined installed capacity of at least 7,500 megawatts, or nearly seven times Bolivia’s current demand for electricity.
Regarding a La Paz-promoted bi-oceanic rail project that would link Brazil and Peru via landlocked Bolivia, he said he strongly supported the initiative as a means of improving regional transportation infrastructure.
“From my standpoint, I’m not involved in the negotiations, I can’t say (anything) officially, but for me (it) makes perfect sense that Bolivia would be a part of this project in some way,” the ambassador said.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has said it would be cheaper and have a greater impact on regional integration if the proposed bi-oceanic railway were to traverse Brazil, Bolivia and Peru instead of only Brazilian and Peruvian territory.
Morales said earlier this week that he had spoken with Peruvian counterpart Ollanta Humala about potential projects to convert Peru’s Pacific ports into “megaports” capable of handling large export volumes.
“We’re very hopeful that some Peruvian ports will become megaports for the export of millions and millions of tons (of cargo) to other continents, not only to Europe but especially to Asia,” Morales said in a speech Tuesday.
Bolivia uses Chile’s Pacific ports for its imports and exports, but Morales’ administration has complained repeatedly about problems with the services at those terminals
and said his country has decided to invest in Peruvian ports.