Ministers Approve US$9.2mn Funding for Gas Pipeline Studies

The governments of Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela have approved US$9.2mn in funding for design engineering and environmental studies for a 10,000km natural gas pipeline that would link the three countries, Venezuela's energy and oil ministry said in a statement.

The funding was approved by ministers from the three countries, Argentina's federal planning minister Julio de Vido, Brazil's energy and mines minister Silas Rondeau and Venezuela's energy and oil minister Rafael Ramirez. Each country will cover a third of the amount.

The dignitaries met in Caracas on Thursday and Friday to discuss the project, known as the Gran Gasoducto del Sur.

Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA will be in charge of hiring a company to carry out the design engineering, the statement said.

The presidents from the three countries plan to meet and discuss the pipeline project on March 11 in Santiago, Chile, coinciding with the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Michelle Bachelet, an energy and oil ministry spokesperson told BNamericas.

Local media reported that Bolivia could opt out of the new pipeline, supposedly because it would threaten long-standing supply agreements between itself and traditional clients Argentina and Brazil.

However, the press release from Venezuela said a committee of planners will visit Bolivia and discuss the pipeline with local authorities.

"As far as we know, Bolivia is still a part of the project," the ministry spokesperson said. In the initial stages of planning, Bolivia and Peru were considered as possible contributors to the pipeline along with Venezuela.

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