Venezuela to Carry Out “Natural Gas Revolution”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced plans for a "Natural Gas Revolution" as part of a strategy for national development yesterday during his Sunday TV and radio program Aló Presidente.

Mérida, September 17, 2007 (— Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced plans for a "Natural Gas Revolution" as part of a strategy for national development yesterday during his Sunday TV and radio program Aló Presidente. The plan consists of ten different major industrial projects across the nation that seek to move the country over to a natural gas energy system and promote the industrialization of the nation's abundant natural resources.

"With some 180 trillion cubic feet [of natural gas], of which 150 trillion are inland and 30 trillion are offshore, with all of these gasification plans, the plans of development, we can double our reserves and convert ourselves into a great world power in energy," Chavez declared during a visit to a natural gas plant in the state of Anzoategui in eastern Venezuela.

President Chavez emphasized that the industrialization of the nation's oil and gas resources is a key element in the government's plans for national development. Given the abundant energy reserves in the country, the national government plans to carry out an "economic revolution" based on the oil and gas industries.

The plant in Anzoategui is only one of ten major projects to be carried out in the coming years with the objective of expanding the nation's natural gas related industries. Chavez has designated US$18 billion for the projects that will focus on increasing national production and internal supply.

Other projects include an industrial complex located in Güiria on the Peninsula of Paria near the Orinoco delta to process the crude from the delta and surrounding areas. The complex will include a liquefying plant as well as petrochemical industries.

Another plant to be built on the eastern coast of Lake Maracaibo will liquefy natural gas and supply the raw materials to the growing petrochemical industry. During his television program yesterday, President Chavez spoke by satellite with workers at the construction site of the new plant. Plant manager Hector Vera explained the details of the project where a whole complex of other productive units will be constructed, including a milk processing plant, a goat farm, and an information center.

Chavez also announced plans to increase the internal supply of natural gas to Venezuelan cities and homes, and explained a project to use natural gas in the nation's cars and public transportation system.

"Upon guaranteeing the natural gas supply to the internal market, it will then be destined to the plan of vehicular gas, to the project of supplying gas to the cities, to the development of petrochemicals, and to the thermoelectric project among others," said Chavez.

As part of the Plan for National Gasification, the president went on to promise the incorporation of more than 3 million homes and 30,000 business establishments to a network of piped natural gas by the year 2016. The plan consists of constructing methane gas networks in order to satisfy domestic demand and will require more than 20,000 kilometers of distribution infrastructure.

As for automobiles and public transport, the government plans to move the country over to natural gas motors. Plans to build natural gas motors in Venezuela have been in the works as well as the construction of natural gas-powered public transport in conjunction with Argentina.

"We are going to start changing the gasoline system to a natural gas one. Soon we will be installing a factory to build natural gas motors," announced Chavez. "We will be making laws to require private companies, the importers, to go to natural gas."

The motive for this project is to reduce consumption of gasoline and diesel fuels inside the country and change over to natural gas as a cheaper and cleaner fuel source. Also, Venezuela will then have additional quantities of gasoline and petroleum to be sold on international markets.

Another of the projects is the Project of National Electrification, which will consist of the construction of large and small thermoelectric power plants. The plants will generate electricity using natural gas as a cheaper alternative to traditional fossil fuels.

"This is for real. We are going to gasify the streets, the cities, the houses. It's clean energy, it doesn't pollute and it's much cheaper," said Chavez.

The Venezuelan president also touched on plans to build gas pipelines to other countries in the region, including the well-known plan for a pipeline through the Brazilian Amazon. Chavez said he would be discussing the pipeline again with the Brazilian president later this month. He also mentioned the construction of a pipeline to Panama and to the south through the Andean countries.