| HOUSTON, March 8
HOUSTON, March 8 Bolivia is scrambling to find
new buyers for its natural gas after Brazil's state-run oil
company signaled it plans to reduce imports from the neighboring
country, Bolivia's state-owned YPFB Chaco said on Wednesday.
An existing contract between YPFB Chaco and
Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, involves
30 million cubic meters per day of gas supply under a
take-or-pay mechanism, turning Brazil into the main buyer of
Bolivian gas. It expires in 2019.
But as Petrobras' own gas production increases, it has
notified YPFB that it will not renew the contract under the same
terms, forcing the Bolivian firm to find new buyers in Brazil.
"The contract with Brazil worries us. We are currently
negotiating with Petrobras the terms for a new contract or an
addendum to the existent contract," said Oscar Claros, general
manager of YPFB Chaco on the sidelines of the CERAWeek energy
conference in Houston.
Prices to Petrobras after 2019 have not yet been agreed,
while "many potential buyers" also in Brazil are involved in the
talks, Claros added.
"We could finally set different prices for many customers,
which is good for us, but it will take time to have more than
five contracts ready," Claros said.
On the other hand, Argentina's demand for imported gas keeps
growing, but the contract that has allowed it to import Bolivian
gas at a very competitive price compared with purchases of
liquefied natural gas (LNG) will not expire until 2026.
In the long run, LNG facilities to export Bolivian gas look
like the only solution to its dependence on a few regional
customers, Claros said. "That is an alternative, but it is not
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Marguerita Choy)