Russia energy investments, multi-sector cooperation in Bolivia

Russia’s government announced on Wednesday it could invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually in Bolivia in natural gas and lithium-related projects, as well as cooperation programs with the Andean nation.

Yuri Sentyurin, a deputy energy minister, discussed bilateral cooperation projects at a press conference in La Paz, where a delegation of Russian authorities and business leaders are negotiating a strategic accord.

The new cooperation framework, still to be determined, would include investments in natural gas exploration and production, according to Sentyurin, who said the precise total would depend on the extent of Russian energy company Gazprom’s participation but likely involve “hundreds of millions of dollars” annually.

The Russian deputy energy minister said his country’s participation in these types of projects would range from between 20 percent and 22 percent, while stressing that Bolivian state energy firm YPFB would be the owner of the raw material.

He also said two Russian companies were prepared to share advanced lithium-related technology with Bolivia, which holds the world’s largest reserves of that metal.

Hi-tech industrial products company Rostec could help Bolivia extract, develop and industrialize lithium to produce batteries and other accumulators, while nuclear energy firm Rosatom could cooperate on researching lithium’s use as fuel, he added.

The Russian official also mentioned the construction of a nuclear research facility for civilian purposes in El Alto, near La Paz, a project being carried out with Russian technology, calling it a “historic” development.

Sentyurin added that Russian cooperation with Bolivia extends beyond the energy sector into mining, agriculture, research and education.

Bolivian Hydrocarbons and Energy Minister Luis Alberto Sanchez, for his part, thanked the Russian deputy energy minister for his presence in the Andean nation and highlighted the cooperation between the two nations and state energy companies YPFB and Gazprom in particular.

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