Bolivia’s President has signed a decree placing his country’s energy industry under state control. Evo Morales announced the nationalisation in a May Day speech and threatened to expel foreign companies which fail to comply within six months. However the military has already begun to take control of natural gas and oil fields.
The move is only the start of a process to seize Bolivia’s natural resources according to Morales who says the next targets will be the mining, forestry sectors. Bolivia has South America’s second largest natural gas reserves but David Wyss from the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s believes there is no major cause for concern.
“It won’t have any big impact in the short run because Bolivia just doesn’t have that much of an oil and natural gas industry. So this is a relatively minor issue from the international energy market standpoint.”
The main oil operators in Bolivia include Brazil’s Petrobas, Spain’s Repsol, and the UK’s British Gas and BP.