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New hydrocarbons team in place in Bolivia


Victor Hugo Zamora Castedo

- Former senator Victor Hugo Zamora Castedo new hydrocarbons minister
- Shell reopened its administrative offices in Santa Cruz and La Paz

By Patricia Garip / Argus

Petroleumworld 11 18 2019

Bolivia's center-right interim president Jeanine Anez named a new hydrocarbons minister as part of a "technical" cabinet meant to tide the country over until new elections take place next year.

Former senator Victor Hugo Zamora Castedo took the helm of the hydrocarbons sector, in place of Luis Alberto Sanchez who was named by leftist former president in exile Evo Morales.

Among Zamora's first challenges is restoration of fuel supply around La Paz and stabilization of natural gas production and exports that have been partially affected by ongoing pro-Morales protests .

After Zamora and other new cabinet members were sworn in late yesterday, Anez said she would request a report on fuel shortages from state-owned hydrocarbons company YPFB.

A new president of YPFB has yet to be named. Among YPFB's priorities will be to reassure Brazil and Argentina on pipeline gas supply , which accounts for most of Bolivia's foreign earnings.

New economy minister Jose Luis Parada said he would not make structural changes but would encourage foreign investment and ease export restrictions, which impacted the agroindustrial sector for the past decade.

Among the incumbent foreign oil companies that are monitoring developments are European firms Repsol, Total and Shell, and Russia's Gazprom. All have said their operations have not been significantly affected by the unrest.

Shell told Argus today that it reopened its administrative offices in Santa Cruz and La Paz. "We are still analyzing the re-mobilization of our Jaguar exploration well, currently operating with a reduced team, as well as our Yapucaiti exploration well, where civil work operations were put on hold," the company said.

Anez is shifting Bolivia out of the leftist regional camp led by Venezuela, expelling hundreds of Venezuelan and Cubans and taking the country out of the ALBA-TCP alliance.

Morales, who fled to Mexico after resigning on 10 November, claims that he was the victim of a coup. Outside Bolivia, the US, UK and Russia have recognized Anez, although Moscow still says a coup took place. Cuba, Argentina, Venezuela and Mexico, among other countries in the region, support Evo and have not recognized Anez. Brazil and Colombia have recognized her.

Morales, who had been the president of Bolivia since 2006, claimed victory in a 20 October election that the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) has deemed to be fraudulent.

Story by Patricia Garip from Argus Media. / 11 15 2019


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