On Oct. 12 Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez joined Colombian president Alvaro Uribe in Ballenas, in the northern Colombian department of La Guajira, to inaugurate the 224 km Trans-Oceanic Gas Pipeline, which will bring as much as 500,000 cubic feet of natural gas from Venezuela to Colombia each day. The three leaders also signed a “memorandum of understanding” to complete a network for gas supply between the three countries.
Analysts considered the meeting a major step towards energy integration in the region. Uribe, a rightwinger generally close to the government of US president George W. Bush, told the leftist Chavez that Colombia was prepared to extend the pipeline to Panama and to help set up pipelines that would enable Venezuela to send gas and oil to the Pacific for transport to markets in Asia. Uribe suggested to Correa, who is close to Chavez, that the Trans-Oceanic Pipeline could be also be extended to Tulcan, Ecuador. For the future the presidents projected an extension of the pipeline into Peru and Bolivia; Chavez referred to this as the “Trans-Andean Pipeline.”
Correa and Uribe both encouraged Chavez to rejoin the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), a trade bloc from which Venezuela began disengaging in April 2006. If CAN turns out not to produce certain minimum results within a year, Correa said, “we’ll all leave.” (El Diario-La Prensa, Oct. 13 from EFE)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 14