Morales Inaugurates Bolivia's 1st Natural Gas Liquids Separation Plant


LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales inaugurated his country's first natural gas liquids separation plant, saying it marks the start of a new era.

He presided over the start-up of the plant in the eastern town of Rio Grande, Santa Cruz province, in a ceremony also attended by Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, Hydrocarbons Minister Juan Jose Sosa and the president of state energy company YPFB, Carlos Villegas.

"Today we can say that after having taken our fatherland back, now we're building a new fatherland through industrialization," Morales said, urging the workers at the new facility to act with "great commitment."

The Bolivian government obtained a loan from the central bank to fund the cost of the $181.3-million plant, built by Argentine company Astra Evangelista, Villegas said.

YPFB also paid just over $1 million to Guarani Indians living in the area as compensation for the work carried out on their lands.

The plant will process 6.5 million cubic meters per day of natural gas to obtain 361 tons per day of liquefied petroleum gas, 350 barrels of "stabilized" natural gasoline and 195 barrels of isopentane-rich gasoline, the government said.

Villegas said a portion of the plant's LPG production will make the country self-sufficient in that fuel and allow it to save the money used to import it and subsidize its prices on the domestic market.

He said that in 2012 $48.9 million was spent on LPG subsidies and $61 million to import the fuel.

The other portion of the plant's LPG output will be exported to Paraguay, which will receive 5,500 tons of that Bolivian fuel every month.

"The plant marks a turning point in our hydrocarbons history. We're not only going to produce LPG for the domestic market, but we're going to become net exporters of liquefied (petroleum) gas," the executive said.