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Bolivia Approves Nationalization Contracts with Foreign Energy Firms

Bolivia's Congress has approved nationalization contracts as part of a plan by President Evo Morales to nationalize the country's oil and gas industry.

On Thursday, lawmakers set aside past differences and unanimously approved all 44 deals signed last October by the government with foreign energy companies such as Spain's Repsol, Brazil's Petrobras, France's Total, ExxonMobil, and Britain's BP and British Gas.

Last May, Mr. Morales ordered the nationalization of Bolivia's hydrocarbon industry and forced foreign oil and gas companies to negotiate new contracts that gave Bolivia's state-owned YPFB a majority share of the revenues generated.

Bolivia has the second-highest natural gas reserves in South America after Venezuela. As Bolivia's first indigenous president, Mr. Morales pledged during his campaign in late 2005 to give greater political and economic power to the country's poor.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.