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Bolivia suspends oil nationalisation initiative

Bolivia says it has suspended the nationalisation of its oil and gas industry.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2006 06:03 IST

Bolivia says it has suspended the nationalisation of its oil and gas industry pending a reorganisation of the state petroleum company, which lacks the funds and operating capacity to take over production from foreign companies.

A statement issued on Friday by Bolivia's Hydrocarbons Ministry said that "full effect" of nationalisation would be "temporarily suspended, due to the lack of economic resources" of Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Boliviano (YPFB).

The state-owned company has asked the Central Bank of Bolivia for $180 million in financing needed to assume complete control of the counrty's production facilities.

In addition, the ministry announced plans to restructure and modernise the 70-year-old YPFB, which was partially privatised by former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in 1997 but re-nationalised in 2004.

When President Evo Morales nationalised Bolivia's oil and gas industry on May 1, seizing the assets of international companies that had long controlled most of Bolivia's considerable oil and gas reserves, he called for YPFB to be restructured within 60 days as a "transparent, efficient, and socially controlled" corporation.

Bolivian opposition leaders say Friday's announcement underscores the lack of progress made since Morales' decree.

Nationalisation was a "media show," said Fernando Messmer, leader of the conservative party Podemos' congressional delegation. "The refineries are still in the hands of multinational companies" and many of those firms are not yet paying the Bolivian government the 2 per cent share of revenues ordered by Morales, he said.

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