LA PAZ – Oil companies expanded their investment in Bolivia from $349 million to $576 million between 2008 and 2009, representing an increase of 65 percent, officials said Monday.
The figures were released by the head of Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos, Carlos Villegas, during a ceremony marking the state-owned oil company’s 73rd anniversary that was attended by President Evo Morales.
The investments in exploration and production were made under the contracts signed with oil companies after the nationalization of the country’s estimated 48 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2006, Villegas said.
Under the nationalization ordered by Morales in May 2006, YPFB became the owner of Bolivia’s natural gas and much smaller reserves of crude oil, and it gained authority to participate in every phase of the hydrocarbons industry.
About a dozen private companies, including Brazil’s Petrobras, Spain’s Repsol YPF, Britain’s BG Group plc and French giant Total, continue to operate in Bolivia through minority partnerships with YPFB.
Oil company investment has grown in the Andean nation, especially by the five firms whose assets were nationalized between 2006 and 2009, Villegas said.
YPFB-Transporte, previously called Transredes and owned by Royal Dutch Shell and Britain’s Ashmore, has invested $240 million, Villegas said.
The government plans to invest a total of $11 billion in the industrialization of natural gas.
Morales called on YPFB’s workers to not just be experts on hydrocarbons, but to be “revolutionary soldiers” with a social and ideological commitment to improving both the state-owned company and Bolivia’s economy.
The president defended the energy industry’s nationalization, arguing that Bolivia “is no longer a beggar state” because it has achieved good economic growth. EFE