sexta-feira, 16 de fevereiro de 2007

Construção do gasoduto Venezuela-Brasil pode começar em 2009

Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, signed an accord that foresees construction beginning in 2009 on the first leg of what is intended to be a continent-spanning pipeline to carry natural gas from Venezuela to the Southern Cone. The declaration represents the first concrete step toward realizing Chavez's proposal for a 12,515-km (7,776-mile) conduit to transport Venezuela's abundant gas to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, at an estimated cost of $ 23 bn. Chavez, who champions South American integration, and his host agreed to authorize engineering studies on the proposed first leg of the pipeline. The initial portion would run from the gas fields in Mariscal Sucre, Venezuela, to a processing facility that the respective state-owned oil companies -- Brazil's Petrobras and Venezuela's PdVSA -- plan to build near the Brazilian city of Recife. But Petrobras CEO Jose Sergio Gabrielli said that the pipeline would include spurs to every state capital in Brazil's underdeveloped north and northeast. "The declaration indicates that there's already significant definition about the economic viability of the project, demand and the proven reserves of gas," said PdVSA boss and Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez. Besides the joint presidential declaration on the pipeline, Petrobras and PdVSA signed a letter of intent to develop joint oil and gas projects in the respective nations. The documents were inked after a meeting among Lula, Chavez, Gabrielli and Ramirez on the sidelines of the Mercosur trade summit in Rio de Janeiro. Officials from both governments told that they expected work to begin on the first leg of the pipeline in 2009. Prior to the announcements, Chavez said earlier that his country could provide all the natural gas Brazil needs. "We have already made quite a bit of progress on the issue of the gas and bringing it from the coast of Venezuela to Brazil, and we will reviewthe issue again with the presidents of Petrobras and of PdVSA," he told. "Brazil does not have to worry because all the gas it needs is in Venezuela and we can send it to the north and northeast (of Brazil)," Chavez said. The Brazilian government has been discussing several projects to guarantee the supply of natural gas in the future, since consumption of the fuel has been surging in South America's largest economy and domestic production has not kept pace. Domestic demand for natural gas is expected to reach 121 mm cmpd in 2011, substantially above the current level of 45.5 mm cmpd, according to Petrobras estimates. Brazil currently imports 26 mm cmpd from Bolivia, or a bit more than half of its needs, but this high level of dependence on one supplier has even been questioned by Lula, especially since La Paz began insisting on a price increase. Regarding future supply, up to 30 mm cmpd will be imported from Bolivia and 71 mm cmpd will be produced by Petrobras in Brazil, requiring 20 mm cmpd from other sources to meet demand in the market. Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, has the eighth-largest gas reserves in the world and the largest in South America at 150 tcf. Recent studies, in fact, have shown that the country's reserves could be even more extensive. The South American country may have another 196 tcf of gas that, if confirmed, would give it the world's third-largest reserves, trailing only Russia and Iran, according to estimates. Chavez said the energy integration projects being discussed by his country and Brazil, in addition to the pipeline project, included collaboration between Petrobras and PdVSA on oil drilling in Venezuela's Orinoco Belt. (EFE News Services)

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