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ECONOMY | 26-07-2018 10:53

Bolivia demands Argentina pay US$ 255 million unpaid natural gas bill

If it requires greater volumes of gas, Argentina will have to pay more, Bolivia's Hydrocarbons Minister Luis Alberto Sánchez said.

Argentina owes Bolivia US$ 255 million for natural gas consumption in April and May, Bolivia's Hydrocarbons Minister Luis Alberto Sánchez reported.

"To date, the payment of that bill has a delay of two months. It total US $255 million," Sánchez told reporters. 

Argentina buys 20.9 million cubic metres of gas per day from Bolivia, the minister reported and it pays US$ 6 per thousand BTU (British thermal unit). Since Argentina also buys Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Chile to the tune of US$ 10 per thousand BTU, Bolivian officials said current prices for their product are unfair.

If it requires greater volumes of Bolivian gas, Argentina will have to pay more for it than what it currently does, Sanchez said.

"It will have to be a price indexed to what it buys from Chile," he told Bolivia's La Razón

"We can not raffle our gas, our gas has a price," he said. 

Bolivia's daily production is estimated at 59 million cubic metres of gas per day and its reserves are 11 trillion cubic feet, according to the Hydrocarbons Ministry. 

The Evo Morales administration official stressed that the hydrocarbons sector in Bolivia is going through the "most important" period of its history, and is producing enough to sell more gas to Argentina, but will do so when it gets a better price.

However, hydrocarbons analyst Raúl Velásquez, of the Catholic organization Jubileo, said that only Brazil acquires 31 million cubic metres per day of Bolivian gas. 

"To transform resources into reserves requires new investments", he said.

"We can work on opening up the contract with additional volumes but with different prices", he said.

Asked about the ideal price for Bolivian gas, Sánchez replied: (Argentina) "must first make an offer. When it does, we will make a counter offer". 

"We are ready to negotiate new volumes, but with better prices", he said.

-TIMES/PERFIL

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