Bolivia looking for heavy investment from oil firms

Oil companies operating in Bolivia already plan to invest $905 million in 2008, but the government is looking for even larger investment.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 2 -- Oil companies operating in Bolivia already plan to invest $905 million in 2008, but the government is looking for even larger investment from them, according to a state energy official and media reports.

La Razon newspaper said the companies have proposed investment of $905.3 million, of which $594 million would be for operating costs and $311.3 million for capital costs.

But a spokesman for the ministry of oil said the total figure could rise to $1 billion since state-owned YPFB has asked the firms to carry higher capital costs than operating expenses.

Talks are said to have been under way since last October, with YPFB rejecting some of the investment proposals in an effort to get better terms. The government hopes to conclude the final details soon.

La Razon said Repsol-YPF SA wants to invest $138.4 million, while its Andina subsidiary, in which the Bolivian state has a 48% interest, has another $157.8 million in investment planned, for a total of $296.2 million.

Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) is looking at $230 million in investment, the paper said, while the firm's Petrobras Energia unit plans to spend $262 million for Bolivian projects.

La Razon said Chaco, a unit of BP PLC, plans $215 million in investment; Argentina's Pluspetrol, $58.7 million; BG Group PLC, $39 million; Dong Wong, $15 million; and Vintage, $11.3 million.

The paper said Total SA, which is partnered with Petrobras and Andina in two large gas fields, is the only company that has not put forth a figure.

La Razon said Total would probably leave Bolivia after negotiating the sale of its stakes in the gas fields with Petrobras.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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