- Bolivia - energy - gas - nationalisation - oil
Bolivia on Monday nationalized gas and oil distributor Transredes, partly owned by Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell and US firm Ashmore Energy International, Energy Minister Carlos Villegas said.
"We are now witnessing a historically transcendental act, the nationalization of Transredes," Villegas said, recalling that the socialist government had nationalized 51 percent of the multinational firm's shares on May 1.
The energy minister said that after the government took over the 51 percent stake it had opened negotiations with Shell, which had accepted the Bolivian decision. But the US firm Ashmore had opposed it, he added.
The two foreign companies declined to comment on the announcement.
President Evo Morales, during the announcement made in the city of Santa Cruz, accused Transredes of "having conspired" against his government and insisted that his economic policy would be focused on finding social investments.
The government said the nationalization would not hurt investments, citing energy agreements with Argentina for the construction of a new gas pipeline to export up to 27 million cubic meters of natural gas to Argentina beginning in 2010.
The head of state oil group YPFB, Santos Ramirez, installed engineer Gary Gaher as the new chief executive of Transredes.
Landlocked Bolivia, South America's poorest nation with a population of 9.5 million, has the region's biggest gas reserves.