Bolivia is experiencing increasing difficulties sourcing gasoline and diesel from abroad and, by next year, the problem could extend to the supply of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Two analysts pointed out that if gas exports to Argentina are cut or drastically dropped in 2024 (as planned), the chain effect will turn Bolivia into an LPG importer.
Fundación Jubileo Energy researcher Raúl Velásquez explains that if Argentina stops buying gas from Bolivia in 2024, the flow of hydrocarbons that reaches the liquid separation plant in Gran Chaco (Tarija) will be interrupted, which will cause a drop in LPG production.
“It is possible that from 2024 the problem (of fuel supply) will also extend to LPG. If, from 2024, Bolivia stops exporting gas to Argentina, natural gas will stop entering the Gran Chaco plant and there will be a decrease in LPG,” says Velásquez.
It points out that the production of liquid hydrocarbons fell by 45 percent from 2015 to April 2023, reaching 33,000 barrels per day (see infographic).
The hydrocarbons specialist Susana Anaya agrees when pointing out that “if it is no longer exported to Argentina, what current of gas will the Gran Chaco plant be fed with? It no longer justifies taking gas to get LPG and gasoline, and then returning it to take it to Brazil”.
Anaya recalls that, before 2014, Bolivia imported LPG and that the production achieved with the two liquid separation plants (the other is in Santa Cruz) made it possible to generate surpluses even for export. However, if production in the Gran Chaco were cut, there would be a deficit of approximately 200 to 400 metric tons per day (TMD).
The national production of LPG reaches 1,700 TMD (according to official data from 2021). Domestic consumption demands 1,200 MT, leaving a surplus of between 500 MT for export.
LPG production through the Gran Chaco plant ranges between 700 and 900 TMD, which represents up to 53 percent of total production.
Los Tiempos tried to find out YPFB’s position on the matter, but it was not possible. A company spokesman, Luciano Montellano, assured the press that the diesel supply in the country is normal and guaranteed.
Argentina wants to stop importing
The specialist Susana Anaya indicates that Argentina is committed to doing without Bolivian gas with the production of Vaca Muerta. To do this, it already builds pipelines and reverses the flow of others.