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Bolivia seeks higher prices for gas sales to Brazil's Petrobras

LA PAZ, May 25 (Reuters) - Bolivia said on Wednesday it is seeking higher prices for natural gas sold to Brazil's state-run Petrobras PETR4.SA, adding that its current contract with the Brazilian oil giant generates steep losses. A natural gas squeeze has gripped countries across the globe as buyers scramble to lock in supplies at a time of surging international prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Bolivia's energy ministry said Petrobras pays between $6 and $7 per million British thermal units (BTUs) for Bolivian natural gas, while alternative private buyers in Brazil are willing to pay between $15-$18 per million BTU. Bolivia has sought to renegotiate its supply contract with Petrobras but "the response has not been what was expected," the ministry said in a statement. Bolivia's state energy firm YPFB loses some $70 million a year on current deliveries, it added. Petrobras' press office declined to comment on the matter. Bolivia is obligated to send up to 20 million cubic meters per day (MMm3d) of natural gas to Brazil, but in recent weeks volumes have dropped by nearly a third. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, facing an uphill re-election in October, has accused Bolivia of redirecting some of its gas exports away from Brazil and to Argentina in an effort to harm him politically. Oscar Claros, YPFB's natural gas export contracts manager, defended the company's actions as "purely economic" given higher returns from sales to Argentina. "A premium has also been negotiated," said Claros, referring to Argentine buyers, adding that it more than covered any possible penalties that could arise from the company's contract with Petrobras. YPFB is committed to delivering at least 14 MMm3d of natural gas to Argentina this winter, but could expand that to 18 MMm3d, with an average price of $12 per million BTUs. (Reporting by Daniel Ramos; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Richard Pullin) ((carolina.pulice@thomsonreuters.com;)) The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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