Petrobras' Bolivian unit has accounts blocked amid land dispute -sources

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 26 (Reuters) - Petrobras Bolivia SA, a unit of the Brazilian state-run oil company, has had its accounts blocked by a Bolivian court amid a dispute with a family over the ownership of land in one of its main gas fields there, two sources told Reuters.

Last month, a court ruled that Petrobras and its partners in the area had to pay $61.14 million to the family of Maria del Rosario Vacaflor Lahore, who claims ownership of part of the area where the San Alberto oil field is, according to court documents seen by Reuters.

Petroleo Brasileiro, as the company is formally known, appealed the decision. The case is now before the Sucre Agro-Environmental Court, which will issue a final ruling on the matter, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Petrobras did not immediately comment on the matter. Reuters phoned the Vacaflor Lahore family and their lawyers, but received no response. It was not possible to reach the court for comment.

San Alberto together with San Antonio are the two main gas-producing fields of Petrobras in Bolivia and send an important part of their production to Brazil.

The dispute comes as Petrobras has reduced its demand for Bolivian gas, due to the growth in production in Brazil. It also comes as Petrobras seeks a buyer for its stake in Transportadora Gasoduto Bolivia-Brasil (TBG), which owns and operates the Brazilian section of the Gasbol gas pipeline.

The San Alberto field produced an average of 2.69 million cubic meters of gas per day in 2020. It is operated by Petrobras, with a 35% interest, along with YPFB Andina - a joint venture between Bolivia’s YPFB, Spain’s Repsol and France’s Total. (Editing by Gabriel Stargardter Additional reporting by Daniel Ramos in La Paz; Editing by David Gregorio)