Washington -- The
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is supporting plans
for a South American natural gas pipeline, a project the
IDB says is vitally important to the region's energy integration
In a June 22 statement, the IDB said the
proposed pipeline could link Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay,
Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay.
"This is a great opportunity. We will
give it our full support," IDB President Enrique Iglesias
said after holding a meeting with government ministers from
countries promoting the pipeline. "This project will
be a milestone in the history of South America's integration."
The pipeline would connect Peru to the existing
pipeline network between northern Chile and Argentina, from
where natural gas could eventually reach the city of Porto
Alegre in southern Brazil. The project would include the
construction or expansion of pipelines in Argentina as well
as new infrastructure in Peru and Brazil.
Iglesias said the IDB has a wide range of
technical-cooperation tools available for environmental
impact studies. Additionally, the IDB has financial mechanisms
to support the pipeline and has experience in backing energy
projects with private-sector sponsors, he said.
A working group established by the countries
involved in the proposed project would call on specialists
from the IDB and other multilateral agencies for support
in drawing up a framework for the project, and these specialists
would discuss possible ways for its eventual financing.
The group also expects to meet with private-sector companies
to inform them about the project and gauge their interest
The IDB said that to keep Latin America
and the Caribbean competitive in an increasingly global
economy, "greater investment is needed in the region's
infrastructure, particularly in such critical areas as energy,
transportation, and water and sanitation."
A 2004 study about the feasibility of a
natural gas pipeline in South America says that natural
gas is rapidly gaining in "geopolitical importance."
Natural gas, said the study, is the "fuel of choice"
for consumers seeking its "relatively low environmental
impact, especially for electric power generation."
The study, prepared by Stanford University
in California and Rice University in Texas, said discussions
of trade in natural gas in South America began as early
as the 1950s. But it was not until 1972 that the first international
gas pipelines in the region, linking Bolivia and Argentina,
were built. The study, called Natural
Gas Pipelines in the Southern Cone, is available
on Stanford University’s Web site.
President Bush's National Energy Policy
Development Group has said that Latin America and the Caribbean
are growing as major consumers of oil and natural gas. The
energy development group issued a report in 2001, saying
that "unprecedented development" of Latin America's
vast natural gas reserves -- 222.7 trillion cubic feet,
as of January 2000 -- increases regional "self-reliance,"
promotes economic integration, aids the environment and
stems the growth in oil demand.
information see a chapter from the report summarizing
the group's recommendations on national energy security
and international relationships.
Washington File Staff Writer