Ministers to Discuss LNG Exports with Pemex, Repsol YPF

Bolivian government officials plan to discuss the possibility of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Bolivia to Mexico with executives from Mexican state oil company Pemex and Spain's Repsol YPF, government news agency ABI reported.

Bolivia's presidential minister Jose Galindo and hydrocarbons minister Alvaro Rios minister arrived in Mexico on Wednesday. The ministers could discuss opportunities for Pemex to work with Bolivia's state oil company YPFB in Bolivia on gas commercialization projects, ABI quoted acting presidential minister Carlos Agreda, as saying.

However, a spokesperson from Bolivias's hydrocarbons ministry said that the main focus of the meetings is to determine Mexico's demand for Bolivian gas. "Mexico's government wants our gas and that's the main reason for the ministers' trip to Mexico, to see how we can manage it, because it's our future export market," the spokesperson told BNamericas.

"The government will take advantage of any window of opportunity that is open for Bolivia," the spokesperson added. On Thursday, Rios and Galindo were scheduled to meet with Pemex head Raul Munoz Leos, Mexico's natural gas association president Luis Vasquez Senties, state power company CFE director Alfredo Elias Ayub and energy minister Felipe Calderon Hinojosa. Ministers Galindo and Rios also plan to meet with representatives of US company Sempra Energy and Spain's Repsol YPF on Friday, ABI reported.

These meetings are designed to discuss the possibility of exporting LNG from Bolivia to meet the requirements of Repsol YPF's proposed LNG regasification terminal at Lazaro Cardenas port, for which it recently won a land-use permit. The US$350mn first phase of the project will have an LNG capacity of about 4 million tons a year and is scheduled to start up in 2008, pending permits from energy regulator CRE and environmental authority Semarnat.

Repsol YPF also leads the Pacific LNG project planning to export Bolivian gas and sees potential upsides in using Bolivian gas at its Lazaro Cardenas terminal. However, Rios has not received official information from Repsol YPF about its plans and was careful to point out that the gas export project depends on the result of a national referendum planned for April.

Repsol YPF CEO Alfonso Cortina recently said that the company would consider selling the Lazaro Cardenas project if it cannot secure LNG supplies from Bolivia.

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