Bolivia’s main sector strengths are primarily concentrated in the hydrocarbons sector (oil and natural gas), lithium, agriculture and mining sectors offering high growth opportunities for foreign direct investment.
Mining constitutes a major part of the Bolivian economy, as the country produces large quantities of tin, zinc and other minerals for the global market. Natural gas is one of the main energy sources and export products in Bolivia. Bolivia’s proven natural oil and gas reserves are estimated to be 750.4 billion cu m (for gas) and crude oil reserves of 440 million barrels. Most of these reserves are located in the south eastern region of the country.
In addition to mining, the Bolivian Geological Survey estimates that Bolivia could have more than 60 percent of the world’s supply of lithium, which is located in the salt piles of Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni and which some analysts call the white gold or the fuel of the electric car era of the 21st century. Beneath the salt lies enough to make batteries for more than 6.8 billion electric cars in the whole world for the future electric car era. The first automobiles using lithium-ion batteries have already come into the market but these light, powerful batteries already have fuelled an electronic revolution, and are found in virtually every kind of small gadget from laptops to iPods. A report by the investment firm Byron Capital Markets confirms that demand for lithium may increase by as much as 40 percent over the next five years. Other sectors with most developmental potential in Bolivia include infrastructure and the agricultural sectors.
Bolivia is recognized for its vast natural resources, particularly in the fields of hydrocarbons (gas and oil), rich mineral sources (zinc, ore, gold, silver and tin), wines and high quality Alpaca wool.
| Hydrocarbons – Bolivia vast natural Oil & Gas potential
Bolivia has the second-largest proven natural gas reserves in South America. The State owned petroleum corporation – Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales (YPFB), while officially the largest natural gas producer in the country works in partnership with a consortium of other corporations (including British Gas, Total, Gazprom and Petrobras) who have announced the start of commercial production in the Iatú field (near the San Alberto Field), which has the massive potential to produce 50 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. According to some plans, future phases of development could more than triple those volumes. There are plans to invest over $4 billion in the natural gas sector by 2015.
According to the Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Bolivia had proven crude oil reserves of 440 million barrels. Greater exploration activity and investment by oil companies in Bolivia have rapidly increased the country’s proven oil reserves with the Tarija department, located in south western Bolivia, containing over 80 % of the country’s total reserves.
The Hydrocarbon Law permits YPFB to have consortium associates and to provide concessions to foreign companies, most of which are currently from the UK, the United States, Brazil and Argentina.
| Infrastructure – The pivotal role of the private sector
The infrastructure sector has achieved levels of excellence in certain parts of the country, with construction solutions that transcend the industrial sector. While the country has achieved great success, with construction solutions being implemented in the major urban areas – the Bolivian government is open to projects in the areas of: highway construction and maintenance (Bolivia has about 43,000 kilometres of highways); airport construction and maintenance and railway construction. Bolivia is open to all kinds of projects and investment opportunities, including public private partnerships PPP which ultimately further develop the infrastructure of the country and its economic growth, whilst simultaneously representing an added incentive to foreign investors.
|Lithium – Immense reserves ready to be explored – Fuel for the Future of the Electric Car Era
Bolivia has the world’s largest reserves of lithium seen as the green energy fuel of the future. The vast reserves of lithium are concentrated within a 15,000-sq. kilometre (5,791-sq. mile) expanse of the Uyuni Salt Flats in south-western Bolivia, which has prompted all sorts of comparisons – one of them being that Bolivia will become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium”. Lithium is used in the production of batteries for a variety of types of electronics and electric vehicles. The Bolivian government is investing as much as $200 million to develop its lithium deposits and welcomes the collaboration of private partners in this effort to develop this reserve.