GOB NEGOTIATIONS WITH PETROBRAS STALLED

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
06LAPAZ2216 17 August 2006 Confidencial Embassy La Paz

Buscar la fuente: [Wikileaks] [MRKVA] [Google]

All the versions of this article: [English] [Español]

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLP #2216/01 2291616
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 171616Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0259
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6051
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 3368
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7218
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 4483
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1756
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 1776
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 3968
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 4387
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 8954
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L LA PAZ 002216

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/AND
TREASURY FOR SGOOCH
ENERGY FOR CDAY AND SLADISLAW

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/16/2016
TAGS: ECON, EINV, ENRG, EPET, BL
SUBJECT: GOB NEGOTIATIONS WITH PETROBRAS STALLED

REF: LA PAZ 2196

Classified By: Amb. David N. Greenlee for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: A Petrobras executive told Econoff on August
15 that no gas price agreement had been reached between
Petrobras and Bolivia’s state oil company YPFB, and that in
fact, YPFB never presented a price proposal during the
negotiations. The GOB also lacks a plan regarding
implementation of its May 1 nationalization decree, including
acquisition of Petrobras-owned refineries and contract
conversion, he said. Because of the uncertainty of Bolivian
gas supply and business opportunities in the sector, Brazil
aims to become self-sufficient in gas within the next two to
four years, and Petrobras is expanding investments in many
South American countries besides Bolivia, where its
investments are frozen. End comment.

Gas Price Negotiations on Hold


2. (C) On August 15, Petrobras executive Arturo Castanos
(please protect) told Econoff that Brazilian-owned Petrobras
had held four meetings with Bolivian state oil company YPFB
to discuss revising the price of Bolivian gas exports to
Brazil. In those four meetings, he said, YPFB presented
neither a fixed price proposal nor a proposal to change the
price formula in the Gas Sales Agreement (GSA) between the
two countries. Castanos said that Petrobras argued for
abiding by the price formula in the GSA, in force until 2019.
Under this formula, the price has risen from USD 1 to USD 4
(or USD 5.7 at city gate in Sao Paulo) since the GSA was
signed in 1994. Both sides decided to postpone negotiations
until after Brazilian presidential elections in October
(reftel). In response to Bolivian threats to procede to
arbitration if no agreement was reached, Castanos responded
that Petrobras would be happy to go to arbitration in order
to have a reasonable interlocutor.

No Progress on Contract/Refinery Negotiations


3. (C) Castanos said that the GOB lacks a plan regarding
implementation of its May 1 nationalization decree, including
acquisition of Petrobras-owned refineries and signing a new
contract with the company. He said that the GOB held
meetings to request information from Petrobras between May 1
and June 20, but that the talks had been suspended since
then. He complained that the GOB’s auditing procedure begun
in late July was a travesty, with only one of the hired firms
having any prior auditing experience. The four types of
audits of the past ten years of operations of 54 fields are
scheduled to be completed on October 28, in only three
months. Such a task was "merely a show" that would result in
GOB accusations against the companies that they had not
invested sufficient funds, had earned enough already, and had
sold contraband, Castanos predicted. The GOB alleged on
August 15 that Petrobras was responsible for many of the
failures (reftel) of the GOB’s nationalization plan.
(Comment: These allegations could have some grain of truth,
as Petrobras acknowledged to us that it has not been paying
the additional 32 percent tax imposed by the May 1 decree,
with which the GOB planned to revamp YPFB. End comment.)

Brazil Decreases Dependence on Bolivian Gas


4. (SBU) Meanwhile, Brazil aims to become self-sufficient in
natural gas within the next two to four years. Castanos said
that Brazil would continue to import Bolivian gas as required
under contract, but would no longer be dependent. Petrobras
has put all but contractually-required investments on hold in
Bolivia and is expanding operations in other countries
(reftel). Brazilian embassy contacts told us August 16 that
Petrobras would seek to expand business in almost all South
American countries except Bolivia, including Uruguay, Peru,
and Venezuela. They noted that Bolivia unrealistically did
not believe that Brazil was taking actions to become
self-sufficient in gas, but rather believed Brazil’s claims
to be a bargaining ploy.

5. (C) Comment: In the medium and long-term, Bolivia is more
dependent on earnings from natural gas sales to Brazil than
Brazil is on Bolivian energy. Bolivia’s current negotiating
posture seems based on unrealistic expectations and a failure
to correctly assess the willingness of Petrobras and Brazil
to cut a potentially uneconomic deal with an increasingly
intransigent partner. What we are hearing from the
Brazilians here is that if the cost of doing business is too
high in Bolivia, Brazil will aggressively seek other
hydrocarbons options. End comment.
GREENLEE