PPIM Contra – call for papers
PPIM Contra – call for papers

South America snapshot

With the pipeline industry attending the Rio Pipeline Conference and Exhibition, Pipelines International looks at the development of transmission pipelines within South America.


Argentina plays a key role in South American oil and natural gas markets. Crude oil, refined products, and natural gas are exported through pipelines to Chile, Brazil and Uruguay.

Originally, Argentina’s pipeline sector was developed by state-owned company Gas del Estado. In 1992, the company was privatised and its business split off to approximately ten companies including Transportadora de Gas del Sur (TGS) and Transportadora de Gas del Norte (TGN).

Since 1992, TGS has held an exclusive licence to operate the southern portion of Gas del Estado’s gas transmission lines. TGS’s pipeline system – 8,627 km long – connects the NeuquÌ©n, San Jorge and Austral basins to the main consumption centres of southern Argentina, including the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and the Greater Buenos Aires area.

From the commencement of its operations in 1992, TGN has increased its transportation capacity by 138 per cent through the installation of 1,553 km of new pipeline and the construction of five new compressor stations.

Argentina’s pipeline system

In 1949, Techint was awarded the construction contract for a gas pipeline running 1,770 km from Comodoro Rivadavia to Llavallol, Buenos Aires. Comodoro Rivadavia is a commercial and transportation centre for the surrounding region and an export point for Argentina.

The 3,756 km, 30 inch diameter General San Martin Gas Pipeline begins in Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Argentina, crosses the Strait of Magellan, passes through the Cerri gas processing complex, and ends at the Gutierrez Metering Station and Maintenance Base near the city of La Plata. The pipeline has six compressor stations.

The pipeline was constructed in three stages: the first was built in 1964 – when Pico Truncado in the Province of Santa Cruz was linked to Buenos Aires. The second and third construction stages took place in 1975 and 1978 – the latter including the offshore crossing of the Strait of Magellan.

The Neuba I and Neuba II Gas Pipelines start in the city of Neuquen, pass through the Cerri gas processing complex, and end near Buenos Aires. The NeubaI Pipeline was constructed in 1970, runs 1,971 km and ranges from 25-30 inches in diameter. There are eight compressor stations along the pipeline. The 30-36 inch Neuba II Pipeline runs 2,201 km and has six compressor stations along the line. Neuba II was completed in 1988.

In 1981, the Centro Oeste Gas Pipeline was constructed, beginning at the Loma la Lata field and running 1,121 km to reach the San JerÌ_nimo compressor station. Eight compressor plants are located along the pipeline. It has a daily injection capacity of 34 million cubic metres per day (MMcm/d) and 2,148 km of loops.

From San JerÌ_nimo, two main loops are connected to the high pressure ring that supplies gas to Greater Buenos Aires and the Federal City. Another system branch begins at San JerÌ_nimo, runs along 188 km up to Santa Fe City, crosses Parana River and finishes at Aldea Brasilera locality in the province of Entre Rios.

Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales’ Puesto Hernandez – Cerro Divisadero Oil Pipeline runs 171 km between Puesto Hernandez and Cerro Divisadero, and includes three pumping stations at Puesto Hernandez. The project was completed in August 1990.

Techint completed construction of the GasAndes Pipeline in 1997. The pipeline runs from Argentina to Chile and has a diameter of 24 inches. Approximately 310 km of the pipeline is located in Argentina and 145 km in Chilean territory.

The pipeline starts at the La Mora compressor station, in the province of Mendoza, Argentina. It runs across the Andes in Paso Maipo and reaches Santiago in Chile.

The 530 km Gasoducto del Pacifico Pipeline opened in November 1999. It transports approximately 4 MMcm/d of gas to southern Chile. Gasoducto del PacÌ_fico supplies municipal distributors and gas-fired power plants. In addition, the 930 km,
8.5 MMcm/d GasAtacama Pipeline, which runs from Cornejo, Argentina, to Mejillones in Chile, reached completion in 2003.

The Norte Pipeline begins at Campo DurÌÁn, province of Salta, and after travelling 1,454 km, it reaches San JerÌ_nimo compressor station in the Province of Santa Fe. Originally owned and operated by Gas del Estado, TGN now operates the pipeline.

The pipeline has nine compressor stations and has an injection capacity of 23.4 MMcm/d. The total pipeline lenght is 3,568km, including the sections that supply gas to the Greater Buenos Aires area.

First gas flowed beneath the River Plate from Argentina to Montevideo, Uruguay, through the $US160 million Gasoducto Cruz del Sur or Southern Cross Pipeline in November 2002.

The main customer for Argentine natural gas in Uruguay is UTE, the state electricity utility, which uses the gas as feedstock for its Montevideo power plant.

The Southern Cross Pipeline concession covers a possible extension from Uruguay to the Brazilian border, in order to supply possible markets in southern Brazil. A number of marketing and technical studies have been completed, but are on hold pending greater marketing definition and development.

The pipeline comprises 193 km of 18-24 inch high-pressure trunk line, with a capacity of approximately 5 MMcm/d. Approximately 55 km crosses the River Plate, with the remaining length resting onshore in Uruguay. The facilities also include approximately 200 km of low pressure laterals of varying diameters.

A separate 40 km, 18 inch pipeline, known as the “÷Link’, was completed in April 2002 at a cost of $US18 million, and connects the start of the Southern Cross Pipeline in Argentina with the Argentinean natural gas grid, operated by TGS.

In November 2006, Techint completed construction of Petrobras’ El Mangrullo Gas Pipeline. The 60 km, 12 inch diameter pipeline connects the El Mangrullo plant with Aguada la Arena plant at the El Mangrullo deposit.

The 1,500 km Gasoducto del Noresta Argentina Pipeline (GNA Pipeline) is expected to supply 20 MMcm/d of gas from Bolivia to northeastern Argentina and will extend through the Argentinean provinces of Salta, Formosa and Chaco, terminating in Santa Fe.

The project was announced in 2003, and in March 2007 Bolivia and Argentina signed an agreement to build the pipeline.

In addition, a pipeline has been proposed to help transport gas around Argentina and eliminate the need to import LNG from Trinidad and Tobago. Enagas has received three offers to construct the Transmagallanico Pipeline from Saipem, the Magellan Consortium of Allseas-Boskalis and Global Industries, and Odebrecht.

The 37.2 km pipeline will have a diameter of 24 inches and is to link Cape Spirit in the province of Tierra del Fuego, and Cape Virgin, in the province of Santa Cruz. The pipeline will have a capacity of 18 MMcm/d of gas from fields in the Austral Basin.


YPFB Transporte SA owns and operates more than 3,000 km of gas pipelines and 2,700 km of liquid pipelines.

Bolivia’s natural gas pipeline network is split into two sections. The 1,271 km northern section connects La Paz, Oruro, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz with gas fields in the Chapare region. The 1,770 km southern section connects Sucre, Potosi and Tariji with gas fields in the Gan Chaco region, and links into the Yacimientos- Bolivian Gulf Pipeline and the Bolivia – Brazil Pipeline.

The 440 km Yacimientos – Bolivian Gulf (YABOG) Pipeline transports gas from Bolivia to Argentina. The 24 inch diameter trunkline runs south from Colpa to Yacuiba. A 4 inch diameter lateral pipeline runs west 263 km from La Vertiente to Tarija and El Puente, and a 64 km, 4-6 inch diameter lateral pipeline runs north from Colpa to Guabira and Mineros.

The Carrasco – Valle Hermoso Oil Pipeline began construction in 2005, transporting crude oil 247 km from fields in Carrasco Province to the Gualberto Villarroel refinery. The pipeline has a diameter ranging from 6.8 to 10 inches.

Currently, Bolivia exports natural gas to Argentina and Brazil, and has plans to export gas to Chile, and Paraguay in the future.

The Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivian governments have agreed to build a gas pipeline to run 811 km from Tarija, Bolivia, to Puerto Casado on the coast of the Paraguay River. From there the pipeline will continue south to Ciudad del Este where it will cross the international bridge shared with Brazil toward Rio Grande do Sul State and onward to Uruguay.

In addition, Bolivia is in talks with Chile and Peru regarding the development of the Pacific LNG Project.

Originally the project was to involve piping natural gas 700 km to a port in Chile, where Chile would build a liquefaction plant for the export of LNG to the United States. In 2004, domestic discontent halted the project.

Since then, it has been proposed that gas be piped to the port of Ilo in Peru. However the Bolivian government is said to be reconsidering the Chilean option.


Petrobras subsidiary Transpetro is responsible for the operation of a network exceding 11,000 km of oil, product and gas pipelines, which interconnect Brazilian regions.

Current oil and product pipelines total 7,000 km which transports 670 MMcm/a of product. This includes multi-product pipelines through which Petrobras has been moving ethanol in batches for the last 30 years. In addition, Transpetro operates more than 4,500 km of gas pipelines with a transport capacity of 77 MMcm/d.

Petrobras and BBPP Holdings developed the Brazilian leg of the 3,150 km Bolivia- Brazil Pipeline (GASBOL Pipeline). First gas flowed through the first leg of the pipeline in July 1999, which runs from Santa Cruz in Bolivia to Sao Paulo in Brazil. Construction of the extension from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre in southern Brazil was completed in May 2000.

The first leg of the pipeline has a diameter of 32 inches. The second leg ranges in diameter from 16-24 inches. Approximately 2,593 km of the pipeline is located in Brazilian territory.

The pipeline is designed to achieve a maximum capacity of 30.1 MMcm/d with full compression.

In 2006, Petrobras began work on the Urucu – Manaus Gas Pipeline, designed to carry natural gas from the Urucu hydrocarbons province – located in the municipality of Coari (in the state of Amazonas) – to the state capital, Manaus.

The Urucu – Manaus Pipeline will be 660 km in length with completion scheduled for the end of this year. In the first stage of operation, the pipeline will transport 5 MMcm/d of gas.

Before the construction of the pipeline, there was only one existing line that carried LPG from a production facility in Urucu to Coari. A line parallel to this, 285 km in length will be constructed to carry the LPG, while the existing pipeline will be switched to carrying natural gas. The following stretch between Coari and Manaus will run for a further 385 km.

A further 125 km of lines will be built to transport the product to the main city in each of the municipalities – Caori, Codajas, Anori, Anama, Caapiranga, Manacapuru and Iranduba – located along the course of the pipeline.

The 5,000 km National Unification Gas Pipeline (GASUN Pipeline) in Brazil, connects the Bolivia – Brazil Pipeline with the northern Amazon and the northeast states allowing transportation of Bolivian gas into these regions.

The first stage of GASUN begins in Mimoso, Mato Grosso do Sul, and joins the GASBOL pipeline. From there it runs toward Brasilia, passing through Goiania. Construction of this section was completed in 2007.

The longest portion of GASUN will be the 2,260 km long central-north branch, which is to connect Goias and Maranhao. It will pass through Palmas and Belem, Para. The entire natural gas pipeline should be complete by 2026.

Petrobras plans to expand its pipeline network by 2,400 km of new gas pipelines and approximately 1,000 km of new oil and product pipelines by 2013. In addition, around 2,000 km of dedicated ethanol pipelines are now under study in Brazil by several companies, including Petrobras.

These potential pipelines include an ethane pipeline proposed by Uniduto. The company is looking for partners to build the pipeline that will cost $US832 million and have a capacity of 21 billion litres per year. The 603 km pipeline will run from the Sao Paulo state to the Santos port. Construction is scheduled to start in 2010.

Cosan has propsed the construction of an ethanol pipeline to be in service within the next four years. Petrobras has signed an agreement with the Goias State Government to build the pipeline. The 988 km pipeline will run from Goias to a refinery in Paulinia, near Sao Paulo to Senador Canendo. Laterals will extend to the cities of Conchas and Ribeirao Preto in Sao Paulo state.


In Colombia, the Ca̱o LimÌ_n – Cove̱as Pipeline connects the Ca̱o LimÌ_n Oil Field with Cove̱as, located on the Caribbean coastline. The pipeline was constructed in 1985 and is jointly owned by state oil company Empresa de Petroleos de Colombia (EcoPetrol) and Occidental Petroleum.

The 400 km Upper Magdelena Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline was completed in 1990. The pipeline transports crude oil from the Magdelena Valley in southwest Colombia to Vasconia. An extension of the pipeline also delivers crude oil to Convenas.

In 1996, the 804 km Ocensa Pipeline was completed. The pipeline ranges between 30 and 36 inches in diameter and transports crude oil from the Cuisiana and Cupiagua oil fields into central Colombia, then to the port of Covenas.

Techint provided detailed engineering and construction for the 218 km, 30-36 inch diameter Cusiana – La Belleza Oil Pipeline for proponent Oleoducto Central SA. The pipeline was completed in 1997.

This year, construction was completed on the Rubiales Oil Pipeline. The 235 km, 24 inch diameter pipeline will transport crude oil from the Rubiales Oil Field to the Monterrey Pumping Station, where it will connect to the Ocensa Pipeline.


Chile relies on natural gas imported from Argentina through the pipelines mentioned previously due to the country’s limited energy resources. In April 2004, Argentina began restricting natural gas exports to Chile because of an energy crisis within its own state. Since then, Chile has been looking to pursue other sources of natural gas such as piping gas from other countries or importing LNG.


EcoPetrol’s TransAndino Pipeline runs 305 km between Ecuador and Colombia, connecting Ecuador’s oil fields with Port Tumaco, Colombia. The pipeline has a capacity of 50,000 bbl/d of oil and varies in diameter between 10 and 18 inches. The pipeline was completed in 1969.

Following this, the approximately 500 km Sistema Oleducto Trans-Ecuatoriano (SOTE) Pipeline was constructed in the early 1970s in Ecuador. The oil pipeline transports 400,000 bbl/d of oil and runs from Lago Agrio to the Balao Oil Terminal on the Pacific Coast.

Techint completed the construction of the De la Costa Multiproducts Pipeline for Empresa Estatal de Transportey Comercializacion del Ecuador – Petrocomercial in 1992.

The project involved the construction of different sections: Libertad – Peascuales, 128 km of 10 å_ inch diameter; Santo Domingo – Quevedo – Pecuales, 275 km of 10 å_ inch diameter; and, Libertad – Manta, 170 km of 6 inch diameter.

In 2003, Techint completed construction of the OCP Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline for Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados Ecuador SA. The 503 km pipeline of 24, 32 and 34 inch diameter runs from the oil fields of Lao Agrio to the Balao Terminal, near Exmeraldes port, on the Pacific Ocean Coast, mostly parallel to the route of the SOTE Pipeline.


The Camisea Gas Project consists of an approximately $US600 million natural gas field development, an approximately $US800 million natural gas and liquids pipeline and an approximately $US50 million natural gas distribution network in Lima and Callao.

The project extracts natural gas originating near the Urubamba River in Central Peru.

The main pipeline begins at the Camisea Gas Field, traverses through the Andes Mountains, and ends near San Martin, the port of Pisco. A second pipeline runs from near Pisco, north along the coast to Lima for distribution to residents and industries in the capital city.

The Camisea project became operational in August 2004.

In April 2007, Suez Energy and Kuntur Gas Transport unveiled rival proposals for pipelines to carry Camisea gas to southern Peru.

Suez Energy has proposed the 22-28 inch diameter, 834 km GasSur Pipeline, down the Pacific coast of Peru to Ilo. First gas through the pipeline is expected in 2011.

Kuntur Transportadora de Gas has planned the 1,086 km South Andean Pipeline which would run from the Camisea fields to Moquegua and Puno.

The pipeline will begin at the Camisea field and extend to the city of Juliaca on the border with Bolivia. It will also connect with the Pacific coastal cities of Matarani and Ilo. Offtake points for transportation systems and for distributing natural gas via a network of local pipelines to the cities of Quillabamba, Cuzco, Puno, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna will also be built.

The Peru LNG Project will use gas from the Camisea deposit as feedstock for a $US3.9 billion liquefaction plant. Liquefied gas will be sold to Repsol Comercializadora SA for export primarily to Mexico.

The project involves the construction of a 414 km, 34 inch diameter pipeline to transport gas from Chinquintirca to the planned LNG plant at Pampa Melchorita. Techint has constructed the pipeline and the entire project is expected to become operational by the end of this year.


Venezuela exports large amounts of oil and has an established oil pipeline system providing transportation from production centres to coastal export terminals, however it currently does not have any oil export pipelines.

Venezuela also has large reserves of gas, mostly established through the exploration and production of oil reserves. The country’s gas reserves stood at approximately 4.8 trillion cubic feet at the start of 2009. This has led to much natural gas pipeline construction in recent years.

In March 2004, PDVSA awarded three contracts to domestic companies for construction of the Central – Occidental Interconnection (ICO) Pipeline. The 402 km ICO was constructed to connect Venezuela’s natural gas transport systems in the central and western parts of the country, supplying natural gas to western Venezuela for re-injection into oil fields.

The pipeline connects natural gas fields in Falcon state to the Paraguana refining complex. The second stage of the pipeline connected the 237 km, 16 inch diameter Ule- Amuay Pipeline with the 1,488 km Anaco – Barquisimeto Pipeline.

The Trans-Caribbean Gas Pipeline (also known as the Trans-Oceanic Gas Pipeline) began transporting gas between Venezuela and Colombia in 2008. The pipeline runs approximately 225 km between Puerto de Ballena, Colombia, to the east coast of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela.

During the first four years, the pipeline will transport gas from Colombia to Venuezela and will be used for injection into oil reservoirs to boost oil production. Later, the pipeline is to be reversed and run from Venezuela to Colombia.

In 2007, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela began talks on creating a Trans-Andean Natural Gas Pipeline to connect the three nations, with Venezuela to be the main supplier to Ecuador.

PetrÌ_leos de Venezuela (PDVSA), through its branch PDVSA GAS, is building the first stage of the 472 km Northeastern Gas System Project (SINORGAS).

This project will supply natural gas to industrial, commercial, and residential sectors in the Barbacoa, CumanÌÁ, GÌ_iria, Cariaco, Isla de Margarita regions in the northeast of the country.

The Southern Gas Pipeline proposal involves an 8,000 km pipeline to carry gas from northern Venezuela to Argentina, with branches in Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay. The pipeline is expected to take between five and seven years to construct.

The first phase of the pipeline will run 5,000 km from the gas fields of Marsical Sucre in northeast Venezeula’s to Porto de Sauipe, Brazil, and will have a capacity of 50 MMcm/d of gas. From here the second phase will connect Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Venezuela and Brazil signed an agreement to develop the pipeline in 2007.

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