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Bolivian Gas Expansion Projects

Bolivian Gas Expansion Projects


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Bolivia's gas transportation network is expanding rapidly after the recent discovery of large gas fields, which has put Bolivia at the top of the continent's list of gas reserves.

In the last four years, Bolivia's reserves increased by about 1.5 trillion square meters. In order to export an estimated 75% of this gas, plans have been made to expand the gas pipeline system through the heart of Bolivia's world-renowned indigenous territories and forests.

Competition for profits in Bolivia's gas bonanza is leading the gas industry to embark on an impossible expansion of projects with minimal reasoning process on forest communities who will bear the social and environmental cost. In the fight for dominance in the market, energy giants like Brazil's Petrobras are ignoring the opposition of indigenous communities and small farmers who live where the project is being developed.

Desperate to find buyers for this excess gas, companies are trying to force open energy markets. After the energy crisis in Brazil, the Bolivian government has aggressively promoted gas in Brazil, where it plans to develop a number of new power plants to increase demand.

However, by competing for profits, companies appear to be exaggerating Brazil's ability to rapidly expand the gas supply network to absolve large amounts of Bolivian gas imports, ignoring the debilitating resolve to adopt a power generation system from Bolivia. gas. In addition, Brazil has its own plans to increase domestic gas production and massively expand hydroelectric output, which would also reduce demand for gas imports.

Bolivian gas could be exported to markets on the West Coast of the United States. There are a number of plans to transport gas to Baja California in northern Mexico and from there through new pipelines to California. However, Peru is also interested in the California energy market as a buyer of its large Amazon gas reserve and Royal Dutch / Shell is planning to receive Asian gas from a new terminal in Baja California for export to the north. Given the risk of market saturation, competition to export Bolivian gas appears to be ill-founded.

Although there are not enough buyers of Bolivian gas, Bolivian forest communities and ecosystems are already paying the ecological and social consequences of the new gas pipeline projects outlined below. Eventually, the consequences of a massive expansion will be felt in the United States. Excess gas could flood the California market with cheap energy, affecting California's transition to renewable energy resources for generations.

Yabog Expansion Project and Gasyrg Pipeline Project

The Yabog expansion project and the Gasyrg gas pipeline project are related by their environmental and social impacts. The two pipelines pass the same route from the San Alberto and San Antonio gas fields near Yacuiba in the Tarija region to Rio Grande, where they connect with the Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline.

The Yabog Expansion Project

The Yabog expansion project will increase the capacity of the 30-year-old Yabog gas pipeline, owned by Bolivian hydrocarbon transportation company Transredes. The project will be carried out in stages over the next seven years according to market demand. The capacity of the 61 cm Yabog gas pipeline will initially increase from 8.2 million to 14 million cubic meters per day (mcd), although a larger expansion could follow.

The first phase of the 6 million (mcd) expansion received an environmental license in late 2001 and is already in progress. A new gas pipeline is being installed along the current pipeline connected by 76 cm of parallel 'loops'. The initial expansion will be completed in October 2002 and is expected to cost about US $ 40 million. More expansion plans over the next seven years and other improvements could cost over $ 434 million.

Transredes has requested approximately US $ 250 million from multilateral development banks. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is currently reviewing a proposal for a US $ 125 million loan to finance the Yabog Expansion Project and the improvement of Transredes's gas transportation infrastructure. The Andean Development Company (CAF) is also considering financing the same projects through a loan to Transredes. The financing could be interrupted due to the financial fall of Enron, co-owner of (25%) of Transredes.

The approval of the loan for Transredes from IDB would intensify the bank's connection with Enron at a time when other multilateral banks such as OPIC are canceling their loan agreements with Enron. In addition, a Bolivian government commission is investigating certain irregularities in the contracts for the creation of Transredes, which were signed by Enron and the Bolivian state oil and gas company YPFB.

In addition, Yabog's expansion also depends on agreements between Transredes and the Transierra consortium involved in the Gasyrg project to settle gas supply and rate issues. In addition, another environmental license has to be requested.

The Gasyrg Pipeline Project

The Gasyrg gas pipeline project involves the construction of a new 451 km and 91 cm gas pipeline for the Transierra Consortium made up of Petrobras, Total and Andina. The total capacity of the gas pipeline will be 50 million mcd. A new right-of-way for the gas pipeline will be developed cutting through the forest for several kilometers from the Yabog pipeline.

The environmental license for the Gasyrg pipeline project was finally granted in December 2001. The start of construction was announced in February 2002 and the pipeline is planned to be up and running in January 2003. Some US $ 120 million has already been invested. in gas pipelines and materials and it is estimated that the total investment will be around US $ 300 million, but financial resources have yet to be clarified.

Yabog and Gasyrg - Environmental Impacts

The Yabog and Gasyrg pipelines pass through a number of populated, semi-populated areas and indigenous territories. Along the route there are plains, mountainous and mid-level forests. 97% of the forests along the route are dry forests Chaco 3% are humid forests. Bolivia's dry forests are among the richest in the world and are classified as "world extraordinary" in the WWF / World Bank ecoregion conservation assessment. The biota of the region has affinities with the Amazon and contains many endemic species.

Concern about the environmental impacts of the Transredes project is compounded by the company's poor environmental record. In 2000, the spill of 29,000 barrels of oil from the Sica Sica-Arica pipeline into the Desaguadero River resulted in major environmental damage. The spill caused economic damage and affected 18 municipalities for a total of US $ 2.2 million.
Yabog and Gasyrg - Impacts on Indigenous Peoples
The Yabog and Gasyrg gas pipeline projects traverse large sections of the Guaraní and Weenhayek indigenous ancestral lands including 6 legally recognized indigenous communal territories, which contain 13 Guaraní communities and 3 Weenhayek communities.

The Guaraní and Weenhayek peoples filed official complaints in response to Transierra's environmental impact assessment. The Weenhayek people and their ORCAWETA organization oppose the gas pipeline, as it cuts their land in two.

They also fear threats to their way of life, food and water supplies, their cultural integrity and psychological well-being.
The Guaraní People's Association has expressed its opposition to fuel extraction operations in Guaraní territory due to harmful environmental, social and cultural impacts. The Guaraní are opposed to the two gas projects and demand that all development plans in their territories be based on their own ecologically and socially sustainable Indigenous Development Plan.

These villages report that after 30 years of activity on the Yabog pipeline, game animals have fled the area and communities have been forced to travel long distances to hunt. They fear that new construction activity will make this problem worse. The Weenhayek depend primarily on fishing for their livelihood. Transredes recognizes the possibility of spills and the two projects run the risk of contaminating the water supplies of local communities, reducing the supply of fish and losing jobs in the local fishing industry.

The new Gasyrg pipeline will open new access to the forest and will result in increased colonization in non-populated areas and indigenous territories. There is the possibility of conflicts over land and natural resources. A reduced natural resource base will result in malnutrition and health problems in communities. The need to acquire alternative food resources will increase dependence on paid labor and exploitative participation in the market economy.

The two gas projects will bring in workers that will bring various social problems - sexual harassment of local women, crime, prostitution, and a problem for local services and the natural resource base. The Yabog expansion project alone will require some 2,200 workers.

The Pacific LNG Gas Project

The Pacific LNG consortium plans to export gas to the United States through a gas pipeline from Bolivia to a coastal port in Chile or Peru. The gas would come from the Margarita Field, which contains an excess of 368 cubic meters in gas reserves.

The Pacific LNG consortium is made up of three companies - Repsol YPF (37.5%), BG (37.5%) and Pan-American Energy (25%). Repsol YPF is acting as the project manager during the preliminary development stage.

In addition to the Bolivian gas pipeline, the project is responsible for the construction of a new gas plant on the Pacific coast, a gas terminal in Baja California, Mexico, and a 64 km gas pipeline from Baja California to California.

An estimated 22.7 million square meters per day of gas from Bolivia will eventually serve new and existing power plants in Baja California and Southern California. The companies Sempra Energy and CMS Energy are developing the Mexico gas terminal together.

It has been established that the operation of the Baja California gas terminal will begin at the end of 2005 or 2006 with the supply of gas from Bolivia destined to arrive after this. To respect this date, a Chilean or Peruvian port must be chosen and agreements reached between the companies and governments by the summer of 2002. The total cost of the project is estimated at about US $ 5 billion.

The Pacific LNG project has been part of a political controversy over the selection of a port from which to transport gas and because of competition with Royal Dutch / Shell who are trying to reach the California market through an Asian gas import project. which also depends on a new gas terminal in Baja California and a cross-border gas pipeline.

The Bolivia-Brazil Gas Pipeline Expansion Project

The 3,000 km Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline, completed in 1999, connects the Santa Cruz gas fields in Bolivia with those of Puerto Alegre in southern Brazil. Sections of the gas pipeline pass through several fragile and important ecosystems: the Pantanos, the largest in the world that cover Bolivia and Brazil; the Chaco forest of Bolivia, an area mainly of tropical forests; and the Mata Atlántica rainforest in Brazil, which is threatened.

The company Gas TransBoliviano SA, the gas transportation consortium that owns the Bolivian section of the Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline, (being main co-owners Enron, Shell, Petrobras and British Gas) plan to expand their capacity through a new gas pipeline ' looped 'along the current route and the construction of four gas turbine compressor stations on the Bolivian portion of 500 km.

The cumulative impacts of this highly conflicted gas pipeline continue to destroy forests and forest villages along its route. The lowland forest communities of Bolivia live with the persistent and threatening environmental and social impacts caused by the gas pipeline. The new expansion project will not only aggravate existing secondary impacts, but will also introduce primary impacts from noise pollution, worker camps, reduced hunting and fishing supplies, and environmental degradation. Indigenous organizations in Santa Cruz have also raised concerns about GTB's failure to adequately inform and consult with them about the proposed expansion and the divisive tactics that are being used to underestimate established indigenous authorities.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States is currently reviewing a proposal to finance the expansion project. Any investment of US monetary taxes in the transportation of Bolivian gas would be particularly controversial since the market is in an unstable state and there are concerns of indigenous communities that have already been impacted by the Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline. Ex-Im would be effectively financing the stimulation of rapid intensification of gas exploration and production in Bolivia, which could prevent the conversion to renewable sustainable energy alternatives in the United States for decades.

Sources Include

- Study of Environmental Impacts for the Yabog Expansion Project, Transredes.

- WWF / World Bank evaluation on the conservation of Ecoregions in Latin America and the Caribbean, WWF / World Bank.
- Environmental and Social Impact File, Inte-American Development Bank.

- Abstract Project, Inter-American Development Bank.

- Opposition to the administrative concession request submitted by the company "Transierra S.A." for the construction and operation of a gas pipeline called "Gasyrg", The Guaraní Assembly.

- All That Bolivian Gas, With Nowhere to Go, World Gas Intelligence, Wednesday, April 3, 2002.

- Enron-backed Bolivian Gas Pipeline in Line For Loan from IDB, Bloomberg News, March 29, 2002.


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