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SOUTH AMERICAN ENERGY DAILY ROUNDUP (March 20, 2009): YPFB seeks international help to become an “efficient, transparent and profitable” company

March 20, 2009

South America Energy Markets (SAEM) will begin a daily roundup of the top-five stories affecting energy markets in the region with links. The roundup includes all the major web dailies of South America and other websites that write about the region’s energy markets. I aim to publish SAEM Daily Roundup from Monday through Friday by noon London time.

March 20, 2009


The situation at state-owned energy company YPFB gets worse by the day after its president, Santos Ramirez, resigned in disgrace at the end of January for allegedly being linked to a corruption scandal involving the murder of an energy executive. Placing derailed YPFB back on track appears to be such a challenging task that its president, Carlos Villegas, seeks help from countries such as Norway, Canada, Holand and multilateral organizations such as IDB and World Bank, according to a report by newagency Erbol. Villegas said that he aims to turn troubled YPFB into “an efficient, transparent and profitable” company.


The country’s new gas bill signed into law in early March by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva should fuel greater investments to the sector, according to the ministry of mines and energy. Quoting PR Deputy Joao Mala in Agencia Camara, the Republic Party deputy from the state of Rio Grande do Norte said that one of the challenges will be how ongoing projects under the old hydrocarbons law of 1997 will adapt to the new gas law. One of the most interesting matters to watch in the months ahead is how the new law will function in practice.


Treasury Secretary Carlos Pezoa told reporters that there is a 50% plunge in the fiscal deficit after payment of the foreign debt, reports Buenos Aires daily Critica. Pezoa said that while tax revenues had gone up by 13% in February, expenditures by the state had risen by 20%.  Argentina’s ever-worsening fiscal situation will translate into less subsidies to the energy sector. This explains why the government gave the green light to gas tariff hikes last year. The hikes did not apply to 3.380 million low-income households.


Due to lower demand because of slower economic economic growth, Brazil has reduced gas imports from Bolivia from 30 to 20 million cu m/d, reports state-owned newsagency ABI, quoting YPFB President Carlos Villegas. The head of the state-owned energy company said that lower gas output has also affected oil production. About half of Bolivia’s annual $6 billion of export revenues derives from gas exports.


As state coffers shrink due to plummeting gas exports and lower global energy prices, Bolivia faces diesel, gasoline and LPG shortages, writes Cochabamba daily Opinion.  YPFB marketing director, Gary Medrano, said that the domesitic market will face a shortage of super grade gasoline in the order of “about 7 million liters” during the following months. Medrano said that YPFB was not importing LPG and that the country would continue to purchase diesel from abroad to plug demand. The daily said that gas output in Bolivia had fallen from 41 to 32 million cu m/day.

These briefs can be reprinted as long as as the source is cited.

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