When the new President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, takes office on January 22, Petrobras will return to the starting line to resume negotiations that began two years ago and were interrupted by the successive political and institutional crises that rattled the country.
This information comes from the director of Petrobras’ International Area, Nestor Cerveró. "There wasn’t any chance to develop the project, so the proposal will be presented again, starting from scratch. In other words, negotiations will get underway all over again," he explained.
He said that the negotiations undertaken two years ago provided for participation by the Bolivian State enterprise, YPFB, in Petrobras subsidiaries acquired in the decade of the ’90’s, such as the Cochabamba and Santa Cruz de la Sierra refineries, and in the natural gas-chemical complex that Petrobras plans to build in Bolivia.
The Petrobras presidential advisory office confirmed that the president of the company, José Sérgio Gabrielli, is, in fact, interested in meeting with the new Bolivian head of State, after the inauguration, to discuss a variety of matters related to the petroleum and gas sector.
The advisory office also informed that the meeting might even take place prior to Morales’ inauguration, during a visit to Brazil scheduled for January 13, when Morales will be received by president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Morales’ visit was confirmed by the Planalto Palace.
Foremost among the topics to be discussed is the new Hydrocarbons Law, which raised the taxes on foreign firms operating in Bolivia in this sector from 18% to 50%. Petrobras invested approximately US$ 41 million in Bolivia last year, as of November. In 2003, it invested US$ 49 million there, and, in 2004, US$ 19 million.
Petrobras got started in Bolivia at the end of 1995, when it created its Petrobras Bolivia subsidiary, which began operations in mid-1996.
According to the company’s press office, Petrobras became the country’s largest enterprise in less than ten years. Over the period 1996-2004, it invested a total of around US$ 1 billion in projects in which it participates in Bolivia.