Bolivia unveils $1.5 bln 2008 energy investment
LA PAZ |
LA PAZ Jan 3 (Reuters) - Bolivian officials said on Thursday that investment in the nationalized energy sector will surge to up to $1.5 billion this year, but the country will not be able to fully meet its export commitments until 2009.
Bolivia exports natural gas to Brazil and Argentina, but it has fallen short on fuel for its energy-hungry neighbors in recent months.
Leftist President Evo Morales nationalized the energy sector in May 2006 as part of a broader drive to help the impoverished, indigenous majority benefit more from the country's natural resources.
"After finishing important phases, such as the nationalization in 2006 and the signing of new contracts and their approval by Congress in 2007, now comes the investment," Morales told a news conference.
"Companies that conform to Bolivian norms, fulfill their contracts and respect the law, well, they have everything guaranteed ... they have the rule of law, and we'll guarantee that companies not only have the right to recoup their investment but also the right to profit," Morales said.
Morales said state energy company YPFB will invest $386 million this year, while private companies such as Brazil's Petrobras (PETR4.SA), Repsol YPF (REP.MC) and Argentina's Pluspetrol plan to invest another $876 million.
Several other investment commitments are being refined, including another $200 million from Petrobras and unspecified amounts from Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, Repsol and the government of Iran, Morales said.
Bolivia's government has said investment in the energy sector totaled about $300 million in 2007. (Reporting by Carlos Quiroga; Translated by Hilary Burke; editing by Jim Marshall)
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