Bolivia's state-owned oil company YPFB reported late Thursday that it has signed a deal with Russia's Gazprom and France's Total that will see the two foreign companies invest $130 million to explore the Azero block, located in the regional departments of Chuquisaca and Santa Cruz. YPFB said that the deal marks the beginning of a new era in oil exploration for Bolivia.
According to YPFB President Carlos Villegas the exploration phase will see Gazprom and Total use electromagnetic geophysical imaging techniques, as well as gravimetric analysis, before two exploration wells are drilled.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, who was present at the signing ceremony for the service contract between YPFB, Gazprom and Total E&P Bolivie, commented that Russia's involvement, via Gazprom, was "a joy, a pleasure and a major breakthrough for the Bolivian people".
The Azero block comprises more than 700,000 acres. In the event of a hydrocarbon discovery, a joint venture will be formed in which YPFB will hold a 55-percent stake while Total and Gazprom will hold the remaining 45 percent.
The news comes a month after Russia signed a $21 billion strategic energy deal with Bolivia's Latin American ally Venezuela. That deal included an agreement between Rosneft and Veneezuelan state oil company PDVSA to cooperate on projects offshore Venezuela.
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