Bolivia's Morales announces full nationalization of pipeline company Transedes
June 2, 2008 - (AP)


LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) - President Evo Morales signed a decree nationalizing all assets of gas pipeline company Transredes on Monday, saying the foreign companies that owned half of it had been too slow in negotiating.

Morales' decree gives the government full ownership of Transredes SA, which transports Bolivia's natural gas to clients in Brazil and Argentina. Terms of the nationalization were not announced.

The company had been half-owned by Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Ashmore Energy International. Morales said Ashmore executives had initially agreed to sell some of their 25 percent stake in Transredes to state energy company YPFB -- as he ordered on May 1 -- and jointly operate the pipelines with the state. But the talks failed to yield a deal.

"We waited patiently all month, but the actions they took were totally different," Morales said, donning a white hard hat for the signing ceremony in the eastern city of Santa Cruz. "They wanted to be bosses, and have us be the employees."

"We're a small country -- sometimes they call us underdevelopedm-- but we have lots of dignity," he continued. "Partners are welcome, but we will not accept bosses."

Since his 2005 election as Bolivia's first indigenous president, Morales has repeatedly moved to exert greater state control over the country's natural gas fields -- the second largest in South America, after Venezuela's.

A spokesperson for Houston-based Ashmore, also know as AEI, declined to comment on the nationalization.