Ministry, YPFB Approve US$150mn in Gas Pipeline Expansions

Officials from Bolivia's hydrocarbons ministry and state oil company YPFB have approved a US$150mn gas pipeline expansion with construction to begin from January-April next year, local newspapers reported.

Caracas-based Andean Development Corporation (CAF) is expected partially to fund the project and the national government the rest, industry chamber (CDI) president Jaime Yapur told Los Tiempos. The report also said the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has pledged some funding.

While progress has been made to secure funding, none of it has yet been confirmed, a YPFB spokesperson told BNamericas.

The project consists of the US$100mn, 250km Carrasco-Cochabamba pipeline (GCC) along the country's western Altiplano and a US$50mn third phase expansion of the Parotani-Senkhata portion of the Altiplano pipeline (GAA).

It has not been confirmed whether this will be carried out by current hydrocarbons transport concessionaire Transredes or a private company, the spokesperson added.

Works could be completed as soon as end-2008, hydrocarbons regulator spokesperson Llubitza Yaksic confirmed to BNamericas in an email.

The government expects to confirm project finance, complete feasibility studies and receive final approval from the regulator by April 2007, Yaksic added.

The project is needed to satisfy western Bolivia's growing energy demand, especially in Cochabamba and capital La Paz.

Natural gas demand in the western provinces reached 75.3Mm3 this year, and is projected to increase 25.4% next year to 94.5Mm3 and to 133.8Mm3 by 2008, according to the regulator.

The GAA expansion itself would be enough to cover this demand increase, according to Yapur.

"Fortunately, the government realized the only real solution is to build GCC because it will incorporate an additional 130Mm3 beginning in the second half of 2008," he added.

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