Bolivia makes natural gas discovery

Aug. 22, 2023
Bolivia’s president says the Remanso-X1 discovery could help reverse production decline in the South American nation.

Bolivia’s state-owned Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) discovered hydrocarbons in Santa Cruz, the country’s President Luis Arce said during an early August address to the nation.

Remanso - X1, in the Warnes province of Santa Cruz, is undergoing condensate production tests, results of which “will allow it to be classified as…a new hydrocarbon field with resources estimated at 0.7 tcf and 52 million bbl of liquids,” Arce said.

Drilling Yarará X2 penetrated the Petaca sand, results confirming the reservoir's continuity and a commercial accumulation of about 1 million bbl of oil, Arce continued. Yarará X2, currently in testing, will increase oil production in the field by more than 700 b/d, he said.

Álvaro Ríos Roca, Bolivia’s former Secretary of Energy and current director of consultant Gas Energy Latin America, said Yarará is a small oil field that still needs to be developed and that more tests are needed “to determine production capacity, plateau, how many barrels per day it will produce, etc.”

Ríos Roca said Remanso X1 is an old well that was drilled in the Los Monos formation. “There are pockets of gas in the formation,” he said. Remanso was drilled in the 1980s and holds production potential, perhaps tight gas, he said, but “I think it was more of an announcement for Independence Day and not a major discovery.”

The current government is working on a $1.4-billion Upstream Reactivation Plan based on three pillars: natural gas exploration, oil exploration, and the reactivation of mature fields. Within this plan, YPFB holds a portfolio of more than 30 exploratory projects in Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, Tarija, Beni, Pando, and La Paz provinces.

Considering this, Ríos Roca said that for Bolivia to increase production, “it must drill 20-30 wells per year, not just one.” Currently, “YPFB is drilling the Astillero well, which has good prospects, but it's only one. Bolivia continues to consume reserves discovered 25-30 years ago.”

“For a long time [the country has] been announcing exploratory plans, new plans, but what is really needed is much greater investment” he said, “which doesn't currently exist.”