LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday called on regional bodies to debate how to achieve South America’s “technological liberation,” saying the continent must cease to depend on foreign companies for its large-scale industrial projects.
The president made his remarks in a speech before inspecting a natural-gas processing plant being built by Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas in the southern province of Tarija.
Morales said no Bolivian and “very few Latin American” business leaders can win contracts to build industrial plants equipped with advanced technology, meaning that “after 500 years” the region must still look to companies from elsewhere in the world.
“The debate not only from a national, but also regional, perspective in Unasur (the Union of South American Nations), should be how we liberate ourselves technologically,” he said.
Morales noted that companies hired to build industrial installations in Bolivia “are service providers” and that in the case of the plant being built by Tecnicas Reunidas the investment is with Bolivian funds and does not involve “money from Spain or Europe.”
That Spanish company was awarded a contract in 2011 to build the $600 million natural gas-liquids separation plant in Bolivia’s portion of the Gran Chaco region.
The president of Bolivian state oil company YPFB, Carlos Villegas, said Tecnicas Reunidas was on pace to complete the plant by October 2014, as specified by the contract.
Once complete, the plant will produce 2,037 metric tons (2,245 tons) per day of liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG, and more than 2,000 barrels per day of gasoline. EFE