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Energy in Bolivia

2007

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The nationalisation of hydrocarbons in Bolivia marked the end of a long struggle involving protests and political slogans by the ruling party in relation to the country’s natural resources. The signing of the new Operating Contracts with oil companies has made evident the pragmatism and flexibility with which it can negotiate nationalisation measures, as well as the degree of influence of Hugo Chávez on the Bolivian government. The discovery of significant natural gas reserves in the 1990s was a major factor in bringing about a change in Bolivia’s political life, since it triggered a strong nationalist sentiment which translated into a rejection of the economic model, political elites and oil companies. The nationalist and statist revival heightened the country’s political instability, triggered legislation changes in the sector and enabled the rise to power of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), the political party led by President Morales. The MAS government, in compliance with its electoral programme, nationalised hydrocarbons, granted the State company Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales de Bolivia (YPFB) management and control of all oil operations and urged companies in the sector to negotiate contracts in line with the new legislation. [p. 1]

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