LA PAZ – Bolivian state-owned oil company YPFB has hired France’s Beicip-Franlab to perform technical studies aimed at improving the success rate of oil exploration projects, YPFB CEO Carlos Villegas said.
Villegas and Beicip-Franlab CEO Jean Burrus signed the agreement, which calls for $16 million in investment, on Friday.
The contract covers “technical and economic studies in exploration areas under the Immediate Exploration Plan,” Villegas said in a statement.
Beicip-Franlab will also try to identify new prospective exploration areas in available zones and prepare detailed reports on Bolivia’s hydrocarbons potential, YPFB said.
The state-owned energy company is committed to increasing Bolivia’s natural gas reserves, which were recently certified to be sufficient to meet domestic demand and exports to Brazil and Argentina for 10 years.
The contract with Beicip-Franlab, a unit of the French Institute of Petroleum, or IFP, will run for three years.
YPFB and private energy companies plan to invest $12.08 billion over the next five years to develop Bolivia’s oil and gas resources.
Some $9.1 billion has been invested in the sector since 2006, when President Evo Morales nationalized the oil industry, YPFB said.
About a dozen foreign oil companies, including Spain’s Repsol, Brazilian oil giant Petrobras and France’s Total, operate in Bolivia under government supervision.