The Bolivian President, Evo Morales, has moved to nationalise the country’s natural gas industry, ordering the army to seize control of supplies. The left-wing leader has also ordered foreign energy companies to handover their rights to the government. The firms have been given a three-month deadline to comply and sign new contracts.
Morales warned that companies who rejected the decree would be forced to leave Bolivia. He also says other sectors are in line for nationalisation. David Wyss from the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s said: “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. “But it’s a sign that other countries are following the lead of President Chavez down in Venezuela, that they don’t quite see why Americans should get all those big nice hefty profits now that oil prices are high.” The main oil operators in Bolivia include Brazil’s Petrobas, the Spanish-Argentine outfit Repsol and Britain’s British Gas and BP.