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How much gas does Bolivia have?

July 2, 2007

The question that some analysts are asking these days about Bolivia is how much gas does it have? If you believe hydrocarbons certifiers DeGolyer & McNaughton, proved reserves have fallen by 27.7% to 19.3Tcf from 26.7Tcf in 2005.

Bolivia’s hydrocarbons ministry doesn’t recognize DeGolyer & McNaughton’s estimates since it gave the company the boot last year. Hydrocarbons Minister Carlos Villegas told the Bolivian lower house on May 17 that the country’s uncertified reserves on January 2007 had fallen by 1.04Tcf to 25.71Tcf.

So how much gas does Bolivia actually have?

This is a difficult question to answer since there’s a lot of politics involved. If reserves fall it reflects that nationalization may have been bad for the country since it has discouraged upstream investment. If they go up, it shows the contrary.

The only “official” gas reserves figures recognized by the government are from 2005, when proved and probable reserves stood at 26.7Tcf and 22.0Tcf, or a total of 48.7Tcf, respectively. Compared with 2004, proved and probable gas reserves retreated by 6.88% from 52.3Tcf.

While Bolivia has the second-biggest gas reserves in Latin America after Venezuela, an important question that the government and energy companies should be asking is what specific investments are needed soon? Exports and domestic consumption will continue to grow. Bolivia will begin to supply Argentina from 2010 with 27.7 million cu m/d.

I believe the real issue isn’t gas reserves because there’s a lot of gas in the country to begin with. The biggest issue is the politics and the tug-of-war going on between the government and energy companies.

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