Uribe, Chávez to Discuss Gas Pipeline

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chávez will meet during the week starting July 12 to discuss integrating the two countries via a gas pipeline, Colombian oil association ACP president Alejandro Martínez told BNamericas.

The plan is to link Venezuela with Colombia and then hook up with Central America to transport between 150 and 200 million cubic feet a day of gas for seven to eight years.

The scheme has been thoroughly analyzed and basic engineering studies have been carried out, the president of Colombia's state oil company Ecopetrol, Isaac Yanovich, said at the II international conference on mining, oil and gas in Cartagena de Indias.

According to previous reports, investment would be about US$124mn. The pipeline would transport gas from US company ChevronTexaco's fields in Colombia's northern Guajira department some 200km to meet a supply deficit around Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. The flow would be reversed and Venezuela would export gas through Colombia to Central America once Venezuelan gas production ramps up.

Yanovich said that Colombia's government has been working with Panamanian authorities to advance plans to extend the gas connection to Central America. The Venezuela-Colombia interconnection will create new demand, increase opportunities for exporting Colombian gas, and "invigorate the sector, generating income," ACP's Martínez said.

The Colombian government's new policies for sector development are already producing favorable results as can be seen by the doubling of exploration activity, and a significant increase in private investment expected next year, he said.

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