NatGas Pipeline Studies to be Completed by July 7

The governments of Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela plan to conclude by July 7 initial feasibility studies for a natural gas pipeline linking their countries, Brazil's mines and energy ministry said in a statement after a meeting of the gas pipeline workgroups in Rio de Janeiro February 15-17.

The studies will allow the respective energy ministers of each country to plan the construction of the pipeline, the statement said.

Representatives from each country, including Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, Argentina's President Nestor Kirchner and Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, plan to meet in March in Caracas to detail a schedule for the construction of the pipeline.

Construction could take 5-7 years and investments are estimated at US$17bn-US$25bn, according to previous BNamericas reports.

The pipeline would transport some 5 billion cubic feet of Venezuelan gas a day to Brazil and Argentina, and could link up to Bolivia, which also has large natural gas reserves.

The pipeline could start in Ciudad Guayana, in eastern Venezuela's Bolívar state, receiving gas from Jose, a gas and petrochemical complex in nearby Anzoategui, and from Ciudad Guayana head down towards Manaus in Brazil, Chavez said in his weekly television program Alo Presidente on Sunday.

The pipeline would then follow the Amazon river towards Recife and split into two branches, one headed to Brasília, and the other towards Montevideo and Buenos Aires on the Rio de la Plata estuary, he said.

There are six workgroups made up of specialists from each country currently studying different aspects of the project including market and commercialization, prices, technical and engineering planning, financing and business model, environmental licensing and social impacts and regulatory, legal and tax issues.

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