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Brazil’s Petrobras Wax Poetic on Bolivian Sovereignty

Petrobras released Thursday morning, May 11, an official note from the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Bolivian Ministry of Hydrocarbons in which both the Brazilian state-run enterprise and the Ministry of Mines and Energy reiterate their "absolute respect for the sovereign decisions of the Bolivian government and people," as manifested in the "sovereign" decree signed by Bolivian president Evo Morales on May 1, nationalizing the country’s natural gas reserves and the assets of the petroleum companies that operate in Bolivia.

The note was released by Petrobras after a meeting in La Paz between the Brazilian minister of Mines and Energy, Silas Rondeau, the Bolivian minister of Hydrocarbons, Andrés Soliz Rada, the president of Petrobras, José Sérgio Gabrielli de Azevedo, and the president of the YPFB (the Bolivian state-run petroleum company), Jorge Alvarado. The meeting lasted for about five hours.

According to the note, the meeting partook of the spirit of the Puerto Iguazú Declaration, when the presidents of Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, and Venezuela met to discuss energy issues involving the four countries.

Rondeau and Gabrielli, besides reiterating their complete respect for the Bolivian nationalization decree, expressed their "willingness to implement it in accordance with the applicable norms."

With reference to these complementary norms, the parties agreed to hold meetings on the technical level to deal with the following items: conditions for doing business during the transition period; definition of the conditions and contracts required for gas production and commercialization; the refining process, including mechanisms and forms of negotiated compensation; and conditions for the signing of production contracts.

But all of this was before Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, declared in Vienna, Austria, that Petrobras had acted illegally in his country, without respecting local laws.



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