Paraguay May Produce First Oil in Mid-2013

BUENOS AIRES - Paraguay could start producing oil as early as the second quarter of next year, according to President Federico Franco.

"Paraguay isn't just going to be a global champion in the production of clean and renewable hydro electricity, rather starting in April, May or June of next year it will join the ranks of oil-producing nations," Mr. Franco said in a statement.

Mr. Franco said preliminary studies by oil exploration firms point to large quantities of high-quality oil in the country's arid hinterland known as the Chaco.

According to Paraguay's government, imports supply virtually all of the landlocked South American country's fuel needs.

Those imports totaled $1.51 billion last year, a 40% increase from 2010, according to a report by the Vice Ministry of Mines and Energy.

The country is a major producer of electricity thanks to its stakes in the Itaipu, Acaray, and Yacyreta hydroelectric dams. Paraguay exports its surplus electricity to Brazil and Argentina.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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