On Thursday, September 14, the Ammonia and Urea Plant of the state-owned Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) will be inaugurated in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in one of the nation’s largest recent economic developments.
The Bulo Bulo plant promises to end the need for the importation of fertilizer and open the doors for a massive export market to Bolivia’s neighbors. In fact, according to official sources, Bolivia has already sealed an agreement with Brazil to export a considerable volume of fertilizer.
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“Brazil consumes almost 1.5 billion tons of urea and the maximum capacity of Bulo Bulo will be 600,000 tons. All surplus production will go to export,” said Luis Alberto Sánchez, minister of hydrocarbons.
According to the minister, other potential destinations for the export of urea include Argentina, Paraguay, and Peru.
The construction of the plant was undertaken by the Korean multinational Samsung, and will be inaugurated after two years of delay. By September 23, it is projected to be at its maximum capacity.
According to YPFB project manager Carlos Villar, the size of the Bulo Bulo plant will rank it among the largest in the world, and will constitute “a significant step forward for the different petrochemical industries” that use many products derived from urea.
“This plant is, we can say, the starting point of the industrial revolution in Bolivia. There will be a multiplier effect, and the potential benefits to other industries will be quite high,” said the official.
The plant will require 200 workers, but its multiplier effect will create at least 3,000 jobs in the country, according to Villar.
“We Bolivians can count on having a urea production plant among the most modern of the world,” affirmed the official.
The project involved an investment of USD $953 million, and will eliminate the need to import approximately 30,000 tons of urea.
“We have always imported fertilizers at high prices and that is a difficulty for the precarious economy that medium and small producers have,” said Edilberto Osinaga, general manager of the Oriente Agricultural Chamber.
Osinaga noted that a ton of fertilizer costs between USD $500 and $550; however, with the new plant up and running, they are expected to cut fertilizer imports by 50%, and eventually phase them out entirely.