Gazprom International, the sole specialised operator of Gazprom's foreign upstream projects, Bolivia's state oil-and-gas company Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) and Total E&P Bolivie, the Bolivian division of the French oil-and-gas concern Total, have completed the process of transferring to the Russian company a 20% stake in the project to explore and develop hydrocarbon reserves in the Ipati and Aquio licence blocks, as well as procedures enabling the joint project to prospect and develop hydrocarbons at the Azero site.
The deal for Gazprom to acquire a 20% stake in the Ipati and Aquio geological exploration projects was reached by the companies in 2010; the agreements were signed in 2012 and approved by the Bolivian government last year. The service contract for the Azero site between YPFB, Gazprom International and Total E&P Bolivie was signed in August 2013 in the presence of the Bolivian President Evo Morales.
On 27 June 2014, the contracts were validated in the country's capital La Paz. The documents were signed by YPFB Executive President Carlos Villegas, head of Gazprom International in Bolivia Vladimir Burdakov and Total E&P Bolivie General Manager Jose Ignacio Sanz.
This gives Total a 60% stake in the Ipati and Aquio projects, with Argentina's Tecpetrol de Bolivia S.A. and Gazprom International each holding 20%. The geological exploration stage of the Azero project is being conducted on a parity basis by Gazprom International and Total E&P Bolivie.
The Ipati and Aquio licence blocks are located in the Santa Cruz and Chuquisaca departments (south-east Bolivia) and cover an area of 37,500 and 23,800 hectares respectively. The neighbouring Azero site is Bolivia's largest licence site at 785,600 hectares.
The collaboration between Gazprom and YPFB is based on a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the companies in 2007. Under this document, the partners are to develop cooperation in the exploration and development of hydrocarbon deposits on Bolivian territory and study ways of participating in infrastructure projects, including those related to liquefied natural gas production.
The Ipati and Aquio projects are being actively implemented. Appraisal wells are being drilled and fields are under development. The fields are expected to be brought onstream as part of a single development plan in early 2016.
In 2004, the construction of the Incahuasi-XI well led to the discovery of the Incahuasi field. In 2011, the gas-bearing content of the neighbouring Aquio block was confirmed (the Aquio-XI001 well). The Bolivian government confirmed a commercial strike in these fields in April 2011. In 2013, construction of the Incahuasi-2 appraisal well was completed. The well was drilled to determine the distribution of the gas-bearing structure of Incahuasi in the south. Currently, a second appraisal well, Incahuasi-3, is under construction.
Gazprom International, YPFB and Total E&P Bolivie have also signed a joint contract to develop the Azero site. The geological exploration stage is being conducted by Gazprom International and Total E&P Bolivie. If commercially significant reserves of hydrocarbons are discovered a tri-partite joint venture will be established, together with YPFB.