Report oil found in Paraguay; gov't cautious

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — A British energy company said on Monday that it made its first major oil discovery in Paraguay's Chaco Basin, though the government said it's too soon to tell if the find is commercially viable.

Shares of London-based President Energy doubled after the oil explorer announced the discovery of light oil in the Lapacho well some 280 miles (450 kilometers) north of the capital, Asuncion. The company said the find is "expected to be commercial."

"This discovery represents a significant milestone for both President Energy and for the country of Paraguay," said company Chairman Peter Levine. "President has demonstrated beyond doubt that movable conventional oil does exist in the Paraguayan Chaco."

But Paraguay's deputy energy and mining minister remained cautious.

"This is a very serious, technical matter. It will take a couple of months to analyze whether the basin can be exploited commercially," Emilio Buongermini said.

Dozens of Paraguayan and international companies have unsuccessfully searched for oil in the Chaco basin for decades. Paraguay, which has no proven oil reserves, consumes about 27,000 barrels of oil per day, and must import all of its fuel for domestic use.