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Bolivia's gas reserves to double by 2025 -minister



By Argus

Petroleumworld 04 16 2019

Bolivian hydrocarbons minister Luis Alberto Sanchez predicts a jump in natural gas reserves as the country's "year of exploration" gains momentum.

"Results from the first quarter were very promising," Sanchez told Argus in an interview. "Reserves will increase from a current 10.7 trillion cf when we certify at the end of the year."

The government is currently organizing a tender to hire a firm to certify the reserves.

Sanchez said the minimum goal is to double reserves by 2025 so that gas "remains a pillar of our sustainable economic growth."

The government's 2019 upstream plan foresees $2.5bn in total upstream investment encompassing 26 exploration wells to be drilled on 23 blocks.

The minister ticked off a list of successes so far this year, including the work of Spain's Repsol on the Boyuy-X2 well in Tarija department that reached total depth of 7,963m, which he said is the deepest onshore well in South America. Repsol invested more than $100mn on the well and began production tests in March.

Elsewhere in Tarija, Vintage Petroleum, a subsidiary of US independent Occidental, announced a gas discovery at the Chaco Este-X1 well, with production estimates of 20mn m3/d, and state-owned YPFB is ramping up work at its Caigua 15-D well.

Sanchez also expects important discoveries by Shell on its Huacareta block and the Total-Gazprom joint venture on the Azero block, as well as YPFB's exploration in the Madre de Dios block near the Peruvian border.

"We have high expectations for Huacareta and Azero," he said.

Sanchez said Huacareta could hold up to 13 Tcf, while initial estimates for Azero are close to 6 Tcf. He said the game-changer for Bolivia could be Madre de Dios, which is in the same geological formation as the two blocks that form the Camisea project in Peru, which have a combined 10.7 Tcf in proven reserves.

"We will start drilling this year to verify information. If the information we have is correct, we are talking about a huge quantity of gas that could be as high as 30 trillion Tcf," Sanchez said.

The Bolivian government is already planning what to do with the fresh reserves it anticipates. YPFB has completed basic engineering for a pipeline to connect to neighboring Paraguay that would export 6mn m3/d. Authorities from the two countries will meet in July to discuss financing options.

Sanchez said basic engineering has also been done for a 262km pipeline to Peru's port city of Ilo where Bolivia has a 99-year land-use contract.

He said the project envisions an LNG facility in Ilo, as well as supplying gas to thermal generating plants, with installed capacity of more than 1.5GW, on Peru's southern coast. He said the project would require 25mn m3/d of gas.

"We have a lot of interest in getting to Ilo, which will allow us to reach the world with our gas. We have the basic plans, but we would need to negotiate with Peru. Obviously, we would comply with all the Peruvian regulations," he said.

In the meantime, the minister said Bolivia would increase output this year by around 6mn m3/d, up from the current 60m m3/d, easily allowing it to meet export commitments to Argentina and Brazil, as well as expanding internal demand, which reached 15mn m3/d at the start of this year.

YPFB´s gas supply contract with Brazil, which should have ended this year, will extend to 2024 for Bolivia to export outstanding volumes. The contract with Argentina will end in 2027 or 2028, depending on volumes, said Sanchez.

Critics have long said Bolivia needs to boost exploration and reserves to sustain gas exports, which are the main source of the landlocked country's revenue. But even it does, neighboring countries have turned to LNG imports since the late 2000s, reducing their dependence on Bolivian supply.




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