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Bolivia: Cementing new friendships

President Evo Morales is making some headway with efforts to bolster dwindling foreign investment in the country's energy sector

A decade ago, Bolivia was one of South America's most exciting exploration plays, but a mass exodus of Western companies occurred three years ago when the leftist government nationalised the hydrocarbons industry and made investment terms much less favourable. But energy minister Saul Avalos said in February that he expected oil and gas investment would total around $0.53bn this year – less than the $0.58bn attracted in 1999, but a marked improvement on 2006's $120m, when the government was elected, and $330m in 2008. Much of the rise in investment will be the result of Morales's wooing of Russia's Gazprom and Venezuelan PdV, both of which are eager to take advantage of the near absence of

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