Monday, May 01, 2006

Evo Morales (Bolivia) Nationalizes Natural Gas Industry

LA PAZ, Bolivia - President Evo Morales nationalized Bolivia's natural gas industry and oil Monday, ordering foreign energy companies to send their supplies to a state company for sales and industrialization.

Speaking at the San Alberto gas and oil field in the south of the country, Morales warned that companies that reject the decree will have to leave Bolivia within six months.

The main oil companies operating in Bolivia are Brazil's Petrobras, the Spanish-Argentine company Repsol YPF, British companies British Gas and British Petroleum and Total of France.

"The time has come, the awaited day, a historic day in which Bolivia retakes absolute control of our natural resources," Morales said from the facility, which is operated by Petrobras in association with Repsol.

After the president spoke, a soldier unfurled a Bolivian flag from atop the installation.

Morales also said the state would retake control of Bolivian hydrocarbons companies that were privatized in the 1990s, with the state taking over shares in the hands of foreign companies and of semipublic Bolivian entities.

He said all the companies must turn their production over to the state's Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos, which was privatized in 1996 and 1997.