Natural Gas
Global Warming
Bolivia's Mesa Offers to Step Down as Protests Mount, by Andrew J. Barden in Mexico City for Bloomberg [2005 March 7]
"Bolivian President Carlos Mesa offered his resignation to Congress almost 17 months after taking office, amid stepped up protests against the government's energy policies...

"It's a highly dangerous moment for Bolivia,'' Mesa said in a letter to Congress, read aloud by Cabinet Chief Jose Galindo and broadcast on CNN's Spanish network. ``These movements are leading the country to a point that is unsustainable. I can't continue to govern under these circumstances,'' the letter said.

"Mesa's resignation would throw the South American country back into a political crisis less than two years after former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada was forced from office following deadly riots in opposition to his plans to export natural gas to the U.S. and Mexico."

"Evo Morales, leader of the second-largest party in Congress, the Movement Toward Socialism, is leading protests to demand a new hydrocarbon law that raises royalties for foreign companies in Bolivia such as Spain's Repsol YPF and Total SA of France. Bolivia has 28.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, Latin America's second-largest reserves after Venezuela, according to BP Plc's statistical review of world energy."

Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, the former President of Bolivia:
"Our country's long-term energy needs are dwarfed by its vast supplies."

What does vast mean in Bolivia today?

""According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Bolivia's proven natural gas reserves were 24 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), as of January 2003. A study by U.S.-based consulting firm DeGolyer & MacNaughton in April 2003, however, certified Bolivia's natural gas reserves at 54.9 Tcf, giving Bolivia the second-largest reserves in South America after Venezuela. The graph to the right reflects the large increases in reserve estimates since 1997." From USA's Energy Information Agency

Comparing Bolivia's Natural Gas reserves with Global consumption of 90 TCF of natural gas per year, giving the benefit of the doubt that reserves are "certified" indeed at 54.9 TCF, Bolivia would be able to meet humanity's Natural gas needs for 223 days. Is that a vast amount?

Natural Gas Reserves Natural Gas Consumption Population per capita supply
54,900,000,000,000 41,000,000,000 CF, actual 8,600,000 4,767 1,339 yrs
54,900,000,000,000 597,647,897,363 if at USA rate 8,600,000 69,494 92 yrs
USA actual
183,000,000,000,000 19,500,000,000,000 CF, actual 280,600,000 69,494 9.4 yrs
USA using all of Bolivia's reserves
54,900,000,000,000 19,500,000,000,000 2.8 yrs
World using all of Bolivia's reserves
54,900,000,000,000 90,000,000,000,000 0.6 yrs
= 223 days
See also USGS on Bolivia Natural Gas Reserves

Peasants in Bolivia organized in September 2003 to revolt against "selling" [giving away?] their energy inheritance to the USA, where the average person consumes 40 times more natural gas, 15 times more electricity and 15 times more oil. To characterize this transfer of natural wealth as necessary for the economic well-being of their country is to completely misconstrue the inherent value of this resource in the long term as a mechanism for internal economic development. Furthermore, it could only come from ignorance of realistic global oil and natural gas reserves and prospects, or because Sanchez is deliberately ignoring these facts to support a political agenda.

Level of Electrification in Bolivia, 2001
  Population Households Electrification Compared to USA Natural Gas Oil
Bolivia 8,274,000 1,977,665
Urban Areas 5,165,000 1,210,962
Per Capita ... Consumption
(this website)
See also An Energy Overview of Bolivia.
Rural Areas 3,109,000 766,703
source: Bolivia's Superintendency for Electricity
in The USA's EIA Country Analysis Brief for Bolivia

Here is what one source has to say:

""Much of Bolivia's major natural gas discoveries have come since 1998. Unfortunately, very little of these resources have been tapped due to limited markets within Bolivia. The country has a very small domestic natural gas market that is incapable of absorbing much of the country's output. Close to 50% of Bolivia's gas, the associated (wet) gas, is re-injected, flared, or vented. Forecasts for the next 20 years show that Bolivia will only be able to absorb 20% of the country's gas reserves. Potential export markets for Bolivian natural gas include Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and the United States. Of these, Brazil is Bolivia's only major export market. Bolivia also exports limited quantities to Argentina. With Bolivia sitting on so much untapped reserves with limited potential markets, there is little incentive to invest in further exploration. This could prove detrimental to the country’s long-term energy future." Emphasis by webmaster; source of this propaganda: USA's DOE "

Jumping on the bandwagon, another author echoes this propoganda as though it were fact:

""But in less than four years, Bolivia's proven natural gas reserves have blossomed from 6.6 tcf to 46.8 t[cf] ... Bolivia needs only 20 % of its natural gas reserves for domestic energy consumption and existing exports, meaning 80 % has no home." [Alexander's reports Volume 6, issue #16 - 28-08-2001.] "

What authority does this author cite for the conclusion that Bolivia "needs" only 20% of its natural gas reserves -- as a country whose per capita consumption is a tiny fraction compared to the developed world? Is it conceivable that the USA's Department of Energy might have an agenda? Is it that Bolivians don't "need" gas because they prefer their poverty? And then someone comes up with a title like this: Bolivia lines itself up to rescue energy-starved California. Huh?!

Energy Overview Bolivia
Population: 8.6 million
Minster of Hydrocarbons: Jorge Berindoague Alcocer
Proven Oil Reserves (1/1/03E): 440.5 million barrels
Oil Production (Jan.-Oct. 2003E): 40,700 barrels per day (bbl/d), of which 29,700 bbl/d was crude oil
Oil Consumption (Jan.-Oct. 2003E): 53,000 bbl/d
Net Oil Imports (Jan.-Oct. 2003E): 11,300 bbl/d
Crude Oil Refining Capacity (1/1/03E): 63,000 bbl/d
Proven Natural Gas Reserves (1/1/03E): 24 trillion cubic feet -- Tcf (some estimates are as high as 54.9 Tcf)
Natural Gas Production (2001E): 143 billion cubic feet (Bcf)
Natural Gas Consumption (2001E): 41 Bcf
Net Natural Gas Exports (2001E): 102 Bcf
Electric Generation Capacity (2001E): 1.32 million kilowatts (of which 72% is thermal, 28% is hydro)
Electricity Generation (2001E): 3.9 billion kilowatthours
Electricity Consumption (2001E): 3.6 billion kilowatthours

Energy Overview USA
Population: 280.6 million
Secretary of Energy: Spencer Abraham (as of January 20, 2001)
Proven Oil Reserves (1/1/03E): 22.4 billion barrels
Oil Production (2003E): 7.9 million barrels per day (bbl/d), of which 5.7 million bbl/d is crude oil (NOTE: Including "refinery gain," US oil production in 2003 is estimated at 8.8 million bbl/d)
Oil Consumption (2003E): 19.9 million bbl/d
Net Oil Imports (2003E): 11.2 million bbl/d (56.1% of total consumption)
Gross Oil Imports (2002E): 11.5 million bbl/d (of which, 9.1 million bbl/d was crude oil and 2.4 million bbl/d were petroleum products)
Crude Oil Imports from the Persian Gulf (2002E): 2.2 million bbl/d (around 24% of gross U.S. crude oil imports)
Top Sources of U.S. Crude Oil Imports (2002E): Saudi Arabia (1.52 million bbl/d); Mexico (1.50 million bbl/d); Canada (1.45 million bbl/d); Venezuela (1.20 million bbl/d)
Value of Gross Oil Imports (2002E): $102.7 billion ($77.5 billion through the first seven months of 2003)
Crude Oil Refining Capacity (1/1/03E): 16.6 million bbl/d (133 refineries)
Total Oil Stocks (4Q03E): 1.58 billion barrels (including about 638million barrels in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve)
Oil Wells Drilled (2002E): 4,964 (down from 8,060 during 2002)
Operating Oil and Natural Gas Rotary Rigs in Operation (8/03E): 1,090 (932 for natural gas and 153 for oil)
Natural Gas Reserves (1/1/03E): 183 trillion cubic feet (Tcf)
Dry Natural Gas Production (2001E): 19.4 Tcf (2002E): 19.0 Tcf (2003E): 19.5 Tcf
Natural Gas Consumption (2001E): 22.3 Tcf (2002E): 23.2 Tcf (2003E): 22.3 Tcf
Gross Natural Gas Imports (2001E): 4.0 Tcf (over 90% from Canada) (2002E): 4.0 Tcf (Jan-June 2003E): 1.9 Tcf
Natural Gas Wells Drilled (2002E): 15,947 (down from 22,083 in 2001)
Recoverable Coal Reserves (12/31/98): 275.1 billion short tons (54% lignite and subbituminous; 46% anthracite and bituminous)
Coal Production (2001E): 1,128 million short tons (Mmst) (2002E): 1,094 Mmst (2003E): 1,091 Mmst
Coal Consumption (2001E): 1,060 Mmst (2002E): 1,066 Mmst (2003E): 1,077 Mmst
Gross Coal Exports (2001E): 49 Mmst (2002E): 40 Mmst (2003E): 42 Mmst
Primary and Secondary Coal Stocks (closing; 2002E): 181 Mmst (down from 182 Mmst in 2001)
Electric Installed Capacity (2001E): 813 gigawatts (74% thermal-fired, 12% nuclear; 12% hydroelectric, and 2% "renewables")
Net Electricity Generation (2001E): 3,737 bkwh (2002E): 3,839 bkwh (2003F): 3,836 bkwh

Here is the article that started this investigation:

The Best Choice for Bolivia By Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, Washington Post, Thursday, November 13, 2003; Page A31. [Contact us if this article is no longer available on the web.]

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