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Oil & Gas - Bolivia, Brazil - Petrobras, Gazprom ink Bolivia gas deal

Brazil's state-run oil firm Petrobras has agreed to invest up to US$2.057bn to develop new natural gas fields in Bolivia, officials in La Paz said on Tuesday. The 15-year agreement forms part of a memorandum of understanding also involving Russian gas producer Gazprom for exploration projects in gas-rich Tarija department. Under the deal, Petrobras will drill prospects in the Sunchal, San Telmo and Astillero areas, which hold estimated gas reserves of 4.88Tf3 (138Bm3). According to Bolivia's state hydrocarbons company YPFB, Petrobras has committed to invest in exploration and production, transport and storage facilities. "These new areas will allow us to increase our reserves and consolidate Tarija department as Bolivia's energy center," YPFB chief executive Guillermo Achá said in a statement. Achá denied that Bolivia faced an imminent decline in natural gas output due to a lack of new discoveries. "Gas production is not ending. On the contrary, all these activities indicate that we will increase production," he added. Bolivia's state news service ABI said Gazprom would update the country's "general system" for natural gas development but gave no further details of the Russian firm's involvement. YPFB expects Petrobras to begin seismic data collection and exploration projects later this year or in early 2016. San Telmo is the first area expected to start production. Tuesday's announcement comes as Brazil seeks to increase natural gas supply to meet rising fuel demand for thermoelectric power plants.

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