Peru unclear about oil privatisation program

Feb 18, 1997 01:00 AM

Feb. 6, 1997 Petroperu has not decided yet when, or if, it will auction the country's second largest refinery, La Talara, despite earlier plans to sell the asset in February. "For the moment nothing has been decided by COPRI (the government's privatisation board) with regard to the continuation of the privatisation of Pertroperu's assets," a company official said. Following concerns that private companies were hiking gasoline prices too high, the government said in December it was studying the possibility of not privatising the refinery, which has a capacity to produce 62,000 bpd of refined oil. Talara, which was to be part of Petroperu's piecemeal privatisation, is situated in the department of Piura, 655 miles (1050 km) north of Lima.
Within Peru, the series of oil sales has been the most controversial aspect of the government's sweeping privatisation program that has also seen sell-offs in the mining, fishing, telecommunications and electricity sectors. Criticism of the oil privatisations, however, appeared to have died down in June last year when the government sold a 60 % stake in the country's largest refinery, La Pampilla, for $ 180.5 mm. But gasoline price hikes since that sale have again focused opposition to the auctions. As well as the La Pampilla stake, the government has also sold its lubricants unit, Petrolube, and the rights to explore and exploit several oil blocks. The government had also planned to sell a third smaller refinery, production wells, an oil pipeline and transport facilities.

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