Bolivia pledges to supply gas to northern Argentina

Oct 14, 2004 02:00 AM

The presidents of Bolivia, Carlos Mesa, and Argentina, Nestor Kirchner, agreed that Bolivia will supply natural gas to Argentina's northern provinces starting in 2007 as part of a process of bilateral integration.
Bolivian officials signed a protocol pledging to export 20 mm cmpd for 20 years to supply the Argentine provinces of Salta, Formosa, Chaco, Misiones, Corrientes, Entre Rios and Santa Fe.

The ceremony was conducted here in Sucre, Bolivia's constitutional capital, some 579 km (360 miles) southeast of the seat of government in La Paz. In his speech, Kirchner stressed the accord as a "true Latin American example of regional integration and open-handedness between the peoples of Argentina and Bolivia."
The energy pact enables Bolivia to almost double its gas exports as of 2007, since its only certain sizeable market so far is Brazil, which currently buys an average of 21 mm cmpd. The gas is to be transported through the $ 1 bn Northeast Pipeline linking Bolivia and Argentina, a project Kirchner earlier predicted would be completed by early 2007.

Mesa, for his part, defended his signing the accord with Argentina from criticism by the Bolivian Congress, which had urged him to put off his meeting with Kirchner pending approval of a bill designed to restructure the oil and gas sector.
Mesa said the agreement takes into consideration the need for "rigorous" enforcement of the prospective law, while warning that "this big an opportunity" to land a new market for Bolivia's energy exports should not be missed.

Source: EFE
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