Venezuela's Hugo Chavez said he felt disappointed that his jumbo gas pipeline proposal to supply the South American continent had been "frozen" by several of the potential beneficiaries of the multi billion project.
"There's an attack on the gas pipeline from the very South American beneficiaries that have managed to freeze the project," claimed Chavez in a radio and television message from Caracas.
He admitted that until recently the project was advancing on technical issues and with the signature of several agreements with his counterparts from Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia, presidents Lula da Silva, Nestor Kirchner and Evo Morales.
"But now it's all frozen, the project apparently has been frozen: no further meetings, schedules have been postponed; we can't force others to build a pipeline to the South if they don't want to," said Chavez.
However the Venezuelan president underlined that his proposal is not for money since it would be far more beneficial to sell natural gas at market prices to the United States and insisted that the pipeline idea had more to do with South American solidarity.
"We'd never sell gas to South America at developed countries' prices. If money was the motive we'd be thinking in selling to the North, but no, we are Bolivarians, we want to share our wealth with the rest of South American peoples", said Chavez.
The project contemplates the construction of a net of pipelines from Venezuela extending to Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay totaling some 8.000 kilometers and demanding an investment in the range of 23 billion US dollars.
But from the very start energy experts have argued that for the project to be profitable Venezuela would have to pump between 150 and 200 million cubic meters per day of gas, when it will only be pumping 50 million cubic meters by 2016.
Besides, the project faces serious environmental challenges particularly crossing the Amazon rain forest and the "pantanal" or tropical marsh lands in the heart of the continent.
Chavez who has insistently promoted regional energy integration with the purpose of strengthening Latinamerica reiterated Venezuela has sufficient gas reserves to supply the continent for a century.
According to official data, Venezuela's natural gas production in 2006 was 1.6 billion cubic feet per day.
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