January 23, 2009 / 1:54 PM / 9 years ago

Bolivia to seize energy firm Chaco - gov't source

LA PAZ, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Bolivia’s leftist government plans to seize control of energy producer Chaco, controlled by Pan American Energy, a government source told Reuters on Friday.

Morales ordered Pan American Energy last year to transfer shares in Chaco to the Bolivian government so that state-run energy company YPFB, which holds a 49 percent stake, could become majority shareholder.

“The government has issued a decree to take control of the company after the negotiations that started in May failed,” a government official, who did not want to be named, told Reuters.

Pan American Energy is controlled by oil giant BP Plc (BP.L). Last year Bolivian President Evo Morales seized control of pipeline company Transredes, previously controlled by Ashmore Energy International (ASHM.L).

Morales nationalized Bolivia’s energy industry in 2006, forcing foreign energy companies, including Brazil’s Petrobras (PETR4.SA), Spain’s Repsol (REP.MC) and France’s Total (TOTF.PA) to pay more taxes.

On Sunday, Bolivians will vote on a new constitution championed by Morales but criticized by his opponents who say the charter would give the leftist leader too much power. (Reporting by Alejandro Lifschitz and Carlos Quiroga; Writing by Eduardo Garcia, editing by Hugh Bronstein and John Picinich)

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