Bolivia’s October 2019 election resulted in accusations of fraud, protests, counter accusations of flawed models and the president’s departure. Evo Morales left office – and the country – after more than 13 years in power replaced by Jeanine Añez in charge of a transitional government with elections pending. The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic added another layer of complexity to the election calendar. But, now, the parties have agreed to hold the presidential election on September 6. With the pandemic and lockdown to confront the virus, the economy and recovery are critical themes for the next administration.
How Bolivia’s government manages the energy sector will be a key element to the broader economic development strategy and recovery in the coming months and after the new team takes office. Natural gas, a long-time generator of income for the Morales government, slumped in 2019 as part of a global commodity downturn. How a new government approaches the role of the state and specifically the national oil company, YPFB, will be important to understand, as will the energy relationship that Bolivia has developed with its neighbors, principally Brazil and Argentina. The facets of the global energy transition and the incorporation of renewable energy and further diversification of the country’s energy matrix also deserves attention from policymakers and the next team.
Among the energy-related challenges that a new Bolivian government will face are stimulating exploration for new reserves and establishing new avenues for gas exports. Brazil is increasingly awash in Pre-Salt gas, while Argentina is developing huge reserves of shale gas, leaving Bolivia with smaller markets for its landlocked supply. Under Morales, the government promoted a new pipeline to Paraguay.
Beyond natural gas, Bolivia has been trying to develop its extensive lithium reserves. Its fledgling effort recently sputtered with the government’s repeal of a joint venture agreement between Bolivia’s state-owned lithium company YLB and Germany’s ACI Systems to tap brine lithium from the Uyuni salt flats.
To better understand how the next administration will confront the energy challenges and role of the sector to drive economic development and recovery, we are pleased to convene a panel of Bolivian energy experts from across the political spectrum. The representatives will discuss their respective parties vision for the energy sector, their platform, and how, if elected, they will address the sector and what policy measures and steps they will take.
Join us for a virtual panel with Richard Botello, President of YPFB (pending); Miguel Antonio Roca, Spokesman for Comunidad Ciudadana and Coordinator of the Economic Team and Candidate for Congress from La Paz; Oscar Barriga, former president of YPFB and advisor to the MAS party.
Jose Luis Manzano, an IOA Board Member and Chairman of Integra Capital, will offer opening remarks and insights on the context for the global energy sector and in the Southern Cone.
The virtual panel webinar will be held Tuesday, June 30 at 9:00am San Diego (12:00 pm La Paz; GMT/UTC – 8 hours). The webinar will include a discussion and Q&A session with the audience.