LA PAZ – The Bolivian government said it has asked a U.S. consulting firm to alter its report on the country’s proven natural gas reserves, which, according to unofficial sources, indicates a precipitous drop from 26.7 trillion to 8.3 trillion cubic feet.
The president of state-owned Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos told Congress – following a month of official silence about the reserves decline – that the request was made to energy industry consulting firm Ryder Scott.
“Some points were detected that need to be clarified and modified by Ryder Scott,” Carlos Villegas said, adding that “the final corrected report will be delivered in the coming weeks.”
The YPFB president did not confirm whether the report lowered the reserve estimate to just 8.3 trillion cubic feet, a figure that was provided by analyst Hugo Del Granado and caused a major stir in Bolivia’s energy sector.
Villegas said Ryder Scott delivered its final, 17-volume report in mid-September and that YPFB technicians had already reviewed its content.
Another U.S. firm, DeGolyer and MacNaughton, had estimated Bolivia’s gas reserves at 26.7 trillion cubic feet in 2005, but later sharply revised that figure downward to 12.8 tcf in a later report.
But the Morales government, which canceled DeGolyer’s contract after the second study, had kept that latter figure secret until just a few days ago. Meanwhile, amid a storm of controversy, a reserve volume of 19 tcf had surfaced in official remarks.
Villegas said both YPFB and foreign energy companies operating in Bolivia had requested the changes to the Ryder Scott report.
Roughly a dozen firms are involved in natural gas production in Bolivia, including Spain’s Repsol-YPF, Brazil’s Petrobras, Britain’s BG Group and French major Total.
Analysts say Ryder Scott’s assessment means that Bolivia is no longer an energy power in South America and ranks just fifth in the region in terms of natural gas reserves.
According to reports cited by Bolivian experts, Venezuela has 200 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves, followed by Argentina with 13.2 tcf, Brazil with 12.7 tcf and Peru with 11.2 tcf. EFE