Govts: October 9 Ministerial Meeting Postponed

Brazilian and Bolivian government authorities have postponed their October 9 ministerial meeting on gas export contracts and the effects of the latter's nationalization of hydrocarbons.

A new meeting will be scheduled in the shortest time possible, Brazil's mining and energy ministry (MME) and Bolivia's hydrocarbons ministry said in separate statements.

This is the second time the meeting has been postponed.

This time the postponement aims to open a window for Bolivia's state oil company YPFB and Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) to deal with "technical issues," the statement said.

Brazil's mines and energy minister Silas Rondeau was due to meet with Bolivia's hydrocarbons minister Carlos Villegas in a symbolic restart of talks after Rondeau cancelled a September 15 meeting with Villegas' predecessor Andres Soliz.

The cancellation followed Soliz's September 12 move to nationalize his country's refining and hydrocarbons sales and exports. Soliz's decision was suspended and the meeting rescheduled for October 9.

Meanwhile, new service contracts in Bolivia must be signed by the beginning of November. The decision to postpone October 9 talks follows Brazilian press speculation that Petrobras was seeking a new deadline to come to an agreement.

Additionally, press speculated the delay had to do with Brazil's second round of presidential elections later this month.

Incumbent presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the center-left coalition led by the Workers' Party (PT) is facing a runoff with center-right candidate Geraldo Alckmin of the Brazilian social democracy party (PSDB).

Lula won the first round this month without getting the minimum 50%-plus-one vote majority. Lula advocates moves to negotiate a solution with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales and is open to investing again in Bolivia.

Alckmin has criticized Lula's stance and has proposed a much tougher position on Bolivia, albeit without detailing how he would advance talks.

Alckmin has criticized Petrobras and the Lula administration for not taking the nationalization issue to international arbitration courts.


Meanwhile, Petrobras and YPFB will continue technical meetings, a spokesperson at Brazil's MME told BNamericas.

The previous technical meeting between Petrobras and YPFB ended last week and new meetings will likely be scheduled soon, a Petrobras spokesperson said.

Brazil and Bolivian authorities are holding three separate rounds of talks. One covers the conditions and prices of gas exports to Brazil, the second is to analyze compensation to Petrobras for nationalization of refining assets in Bolivia and the third is for a new service provider contract for hydrocarbons production in Bolivia.

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