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Lack of investment could prevent Bolivian gas from reaching other countries, including Brazil. Petrobras tries to get ahead and think of a solution

Written by Ruth Rodrigues
Published 31/01/2023 às 22:57
Experts claim that there are great chances that Bolivian gas will no longer be an export product due to lack of investment in the area. Brazil, which imports the fuel, would be heavily affected, which is why Petrobras is already looking for a possible solution before the scenario materializes.
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Experts claim that there are great chances that Bolivian gas will no longer be an export product due to lack of investment in the area. Brazil, which imports the fuel, would be heavily affected, which is why Petrobras is already looking for a possible solution before the scenario materializes.

According to the Bolivian government, speculations made about the lack of investment in Bolivian gas are false, which, in theory, would leave Brazil safe for a considerable time. However, the Petrobras team seems to believe in the aforementioned predictions, as it is looking for a viable solution not to be surprised. According to experts, the year 2030 should mark the end of the export era.

How would Brazil be affected if Bolivian gas ceased to be exported?

In quantitative data, Brazil has already imported around 30 million cubic meters of gas per day directly from Bolivia.

The apex took place in 2022, through the Brazil-Bolivia gas pipeline, but it was necessary to agree on a readjustment in the values ​​and the shipment was 20 million cubic meters per day.

That is, a possible interruption of this agreement would end up causing damage to the Brazilian economy, especially for companies like Petrobras.

As possible solutions, the entity has Route 3 of the pre-salt gas pipeline, which is still under construction, as well as seeking support from other producers in neighboring countries, as is the case of Argentina.

Wood Mackenzie explored the issue and made a study of YPFB's history to understand the future of the state-owned company

To avoid hasty decisions, the government of Bolivia made it very clear that the area is indeed receiving the necessary investments based on plans worth at least US$ 325 million.

The initiative would be both for the continuous exploration of wells and for prospecting possible new places.

The focus would be on the state-owned company Yacimientos Petrolíferos Federales de Bolivia (YPFB), which is the largest external supplier of gas to Brazil.

Despite the released note, expectations are still low, considering an analysis made by Wood Mackenzie.

According to the report, YPFB's last attempts were unsuccessful, since, in 2021, it intended to explore 20 wells in Bolivia and ended up being limited to just three – which, by the way, were dry.

In a written note, they said: "Our research indicates that operators have reduced their spending in Bolivia due to failed campaigns to increase production, especially in already established fields." In the same speech, they detailed the reason: “In addition, the most recent exploration efforts have not shown the desired results. Two or three high-potential exploration wells failed.”

The statements made are based on concrete data that have been observed over the years. For example, it was found that total exports of Bolivian gas have dropped by around 40% since 2015, which indicates that the future for the area is becoming increasingly fragile in the current scenario.

For Rivaldo Moreira Neto, CEO of Gas Energy, a Brazilian consultancy: “The concern with Bolivia is very evident because the decline has been noticed for some time. The country has not been successful in attracting private investment to explore new fields and, from recent announcements, what is seen is YPFB itself contributing capital because, in fact, the country's rules have not been attractive for a long time”.

Petrobras' search for a substitute solution is therefore valid. The reduction in the arrival of Bolivian gas in Brazil, caused by the lack of investment, becomes an increasingly imminent danger as the years go by and the collapse can happen in the short term.

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Ruth Rodrigues

Graduated in Biological Sciences from the State University of Rio Grande do Norte (UERN), she works as a writer and scientific disseminator.

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