The decree signed Monday, May 1st, by the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, nationalizing the country’s oil and gas reserves came after a long period of political upheaval in Bolivia, which saw two presidents forced out of office by street protests.
Sanchez de Lozada was forced out in October 2003, and his replacement, Carlos Mesa, had to leave in June 2005 after 80 people died in violent demonstrations.
Pablo Solon, the director of the Solon Foundation, a Bolivian NGO which was involved in the protests and demonstrations, says that the nationalization of oil and gas reserves is something that the country’s social movements unanimously approve.
As for relations with Petrobras, Brazil’s state-run oil company that is a major player in the Bolivian energy sector, Solon says it is welcome as long as it complies with the nationalization decree.
"We want Bolivia and Petrobras to be partners. However, Bolivia will not accept being an employee of Petrobras," he declared.
The director of International Affairs at Petrobras, Nestor Cervero, says that he does not foresee any immediate problems with gas from Bolivia. "The flow is normal," he declared.
"And the nationalization decree is just a management document. We continue to negotiate our situation in Bolivia. We want to keep the Brazilian market supplied with gas from Bolivia. We are talking about 50% of the gas Brazil consumes. This is not small stuff," he said.
Meanwhile, the Petrobras president, Jose Sergio Gabrielli, declared that the decree contained some obscure items, "Details that we have to clear up and find out exactly what they mean."