Bolivia Sees Oil, Gas Investment Jumping To $2 Billion In 2012
December 29, 2011 - NASDAQ


--Investment seen surging to $2 billion in 2012
--Bolivia is on big push to develop potentially huge natural-gas fields
--Investment hit record $1.2 billion in 2011


Bolivia is expecting $2 billion to be invested to develop its oil and gas sector next year, almost doubling the record investment made in 2011, state oil and gas company YPFB said in a statement Thursday.

Next year, 64% of that investment will be made by YPFB, with the rest coming from private partners, YPFB said.

The investment will be made to increase production and transport capacity, build separation plants and to start construction of fertilizer and plastics plants, the company said.

During 2011, private and state investment in the sector hit a record $1.2 billion, boosting production capacity to 47 million cubic meters per day, according to YPFB.

Bolivia is currently on a drive to attract foreign investment to develop its potentially large natural-gas reserves after struggling to meet export obligations to Argentina and Brazil in recent years. Those exports are the country's primary source of hard currency.

Bolivia nationalized its oil and gas industry in 2006. Following the nationalization, many exploration and production companies cut back operations or pulled up stakes entirely, severely diminishing Bolivia's ability to boost output.

But now, many are rushing to get back into Bolivia under "service provider" contracts for exploration. Once a company discovers natural gas, a joint venture that is majority-owned by YPFB is formed, with the private company expected to recover its exploration costs within five to 10 years, according to YPFB.

Investment is seen coming from companies including subsidiaries of Brazilian oil giant Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras (PBR, PETR4.BR), Repsol YPF SA ( REPYY, REP.MC), Argentina's Pan American Energy, France'sTotal SA (TOT, FP.FR), Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY) subsidiary Vintage Petroleum, Pluspetrol, BG Group PLC (BRGYY, BG.LN), GTLI, YPFB Chaco, YPFB Andina, Matpetrol, and Canadian Energy Exploration Inc. (CXXXF).

Bolivia hopes to see $10.7 billion of public- and private-sector investment in its oil and gas industry between 2009 and 2015, YPFB President Carlos Villegas said at a conference in Buenos Aires in October.

-By Shane Romig, Dow Jones Newswires; 54-11-4103-6738; shane.romig@