Energy Ministers to Decide on Pipeline Timetable March 2

The official timetable for the natural gas pipeline that will connect Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela will be approved or rejected by energy ministers from the three countries during a meeting on March 2 in the Venezuelan resort island of Margarita, Jorge Luis Sanchez, Venezuela's chief natural gas regulator Enagas president, told BNamericas.

"There is a schedule for next week we will propose to the ministers," Sanchez said.

"They will review it and pending approval present it to the presidents [of Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela] on March 8 or 9."

The timetable includes decisions on conceptual engineering, regulation, prices for the gas, the cost of the project, the business model, environmental considerations, the definitive route, the distance and volumes to be shipped.

"It is based on the timetable that ministers will make a decision and we will then see which countries come on board, either as contributors or on the demand side," Sanchez said.

Early estimates disclosed by Venezuela have put the project cost at some US$22bn, with initial shipments of 5 billion cubic feet of Venezuelan natural gas a day.

The country is considering charging around US$5 per million British Thermal Units (MBTU), which is much higher than the local gas price for industrial clients and also higher than that which Bolivia sells its gas to Argentina and Brazil.

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