LA PAZ – Bolivian state-owned oil company YPFB started drilling the Itaguazurenda (ITG-X3) well on Tuesday using its own equipment in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, where President Evo Morales participated in an event marking the achievement.
Four more wells will be drilled if ITG-X3 produces gas, helping YPFB meet the goal of turning the area into a producer of 20 million cubic meters per day of gas, Morales said.
YPFB now has three drilling rigs of its own and plans to buy three more in 2016, the president said.
The state-owned oil company owned 17 drilling rigs before privatization and the equipment was sold to private companies at “giveaway” prices, the government said.
Bolivia produces about 62 million cubic meters per day of natural gas, of which about half is exported to Brazil and 16 million cubic meters per day go to Argentina.
If the Itaguazurenda field is a success, the government will receive $556 million in revenue over 20 years, Hydrocarbons Minister Luis Alberto Sanchez said.
The results of drilling should be known in 85 days.
Bolivia, according to an official 2014 certification report, has proven natural gas reserves of 10.45 trillion cubic meters, allowing production to continue at the current rate until 2023.
The Andean nation’s gas reserves rose by 1.5 trillion cubic meters this year, thanks to new discoveries amid an intense exploration effort, the government said.