Leaders to Discuss Energy Integration in Asuncion on Wednesday

Paraguay's President Nicanor Duarte will host his Bolivian and Uruguayan counterparts Evo Morales and Tabare Vazquez in capital Asuncion on Wednesday (Apr 19) to discuss energy integration between the three countries, Paraguay's presidential website reported.

In particular, the three heads of state will discuss a proposed gas pipeline project that would interconnect the three countries, the statement said.

The pipeline would take Bolivian gas to Paraguay and then pass through Brazil on its way to Uruguay, Uruguayan paper El Pais reported.

The project is a seen as a possible alternative to the 10,000km natural gas pipeline initiative that would link Venezuela with Argentina and Brazil, which some see as being unviable due to the large distances involved.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has also been invited to the summit to discuss the Gasoducto del Sur project, which would be a determining factor in future joint undertakings between Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay, the statement said.

The Andean Development Corporation (CAF) has offered to finance feasibility studies for the Bolivia-Paraguay-Uruguay project, El Pais reported.

While on the campaign trail, Morales expressed his desire to export Bolivian gas primarily to Latin American markets such as those in Uruguay and Paraguay.

Bolivia has more than 47 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, the second largest in Latin America after Venezuela.

Morales and Vasquez have already indicated their intention to co-finance the construction of a gas pipeline from Bolivia to Uruguay. Bolivia's ministry of public works signed an agreement with Paraguay in March that included a possible gas pipeline project from Bolivia's Tarija department to Paraguay.

The state leaders will also discuss the Paraguay-Paraná waterway hub project that would link Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina, highlighting its geopolitical and economic importance with regards to the collective development of the three countries.

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