While Weaning Out of Bolivia’s Gas Brazil Considers the Middle East

Brazilian oil giant Petrobras is studying the possibility of building units for the conversion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) into its gaseous form in Brazil.

Implementation of these units would make it possible for Brazil to import gas from Arab countries like Qatar, in the Middle East, and Algeria, in North Africa.

"We are studying the possibility of building regasification terminals," said Petrobras president, José Sérgio Gabrielli, to the press Wednesday, May 24.

Gas pipelines are the best way to transport gas, but, due to the distance, this is not a viable alternative for the transport of the product from the Arab countries to Brazil. Gas would have to be sent compressed, in liquid form, by ship for future regasification in the country.

According to Gabrielli, the units would serve for continuous use, in case of need, but not permanent. With them, however, Brazil could import natural gas from "anywhere worldwide", according to the president of Petrobras.

According to the secretary general at the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Michel Alaby, the Arab countries that could supply gas to Brazil are Algeria and Qatar.

Gabrielli did not state that Brazil is going to import gas from the Arab countries, but, during a talk at the Estadão Energy Forum, which was promoted yesterday in São Paulo by newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, he said that the greatest expansion in production of natural gas in the world is in Qatar, and the greatest reserves are in the Middle East. Qatar has proven reserves of 25.77 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and Algeria, 4.5 trillion cubic meters.

Imports of gas from distant regions may be an alternative for Brazil to supply the domestic demand in coming years. According to the president of Petrobras, the country is going to continue counting on the daily supply of 30 million cubic meters of natural from Bolivia, but the company is not going to make previously forecasted investments in the neighboring country. This investment would have guaranteed another 15 million cubic meters, which will now have to come from other sources.

This year, Bolivia announced the nationalization of gas production in the country, an area in which the Brazilian oil company operates, causing great concern about supply to Brazil.

Another alternative for the supply of the Brazilian market is production of gas in the country, which Petrobras has already announced. The project, however, should take a while – around two years – for generation of results. Currently, the Brazilian natural gas production capacity is around 32 million cubic meters.

According to Gabrielli, Petrobras intends to be producing between 110 million cubic meters by 2010, including the 30 million cubic meters produced in Bolivia. The demand, currently 42 million cubic meters, should also rise to 99 million by 2010. However, the country would still have surplus production.

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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