Peru Agrees to Study Pacific Outlet for Bolivian Natgas Exports

Reuters

LIMA, June 23 (Reuters) - The presidents of Peru and Bolivia agreed Tuesday to study a project that would allow landlocked Bolivia to ship its natural gas, a key export, to Asia from Peru's Pacific coast.

The agreement, one of several listed in a pact signed by Peru's Ollanta Humala and Bolivia's Evo Morales Tuesday, brings Bolivia a step closer to its longtime goal of finding a Pacific outlet for its abundant natural gas reserves.

Bolivia now mostly exports gas to Brazil and Argentina.

Humala said he is willing to let Bolivia link to a $5 billion natural gas pipeline now being built by Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht in southern Peru.

The pipeline, scheduled to wrap up in 2017 after Humala's term ends, was designed to move gas from Peru's interior to its southern coast to feed power plants and a future petrochemicals complex.

"This is an important project in Peru that we're willing to share with the Bolivian people," Humala told reporters after his meeting with Morales.

"We're going to start a series of bilateral meetings right away to seek the best use of Peruvian gas and Bolivian gas," Humala said.

Humala and Morales also agreed to work more closely on fighting drug smuggling, illegal mining and human trafficking along their 1,000-kilometer-long (620-mile) porous border.

Peru is the world's top cocaine producer and traffickers now fly large loads of the drug in small planes to Bolivia, where it is smuggled to neighboring Brazil, according to U.S. authorities.

(Reporting by Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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