Excuse the slightly dodgy graphic, but this illustrates the carve-up of Bolivia’s annual gas revenues which totalled on average $992 million per year between 1998 and 2004.* As the energy companies control the supply chain from production to distribution, and have been known to sell gas/oil without paying any taxes, the real picture is probably much worse.
If you ran a cake-shop, where someone you hired was taking 58% of your income as straight profit leaving you with 18% (as well as occasionally putting his hand in the till from time to time), you would probably be quite pissed off. I think you would be seen as very gracious if you agreed to keep the employee on as long as the profits were split 50/50.
The demand for 50% royalties is what the main opposition party, MAS, has been arguing for. Many social movements are arguing for full nationalisation of Bolivia’s oil and gas reserves. But the energy companies are fighting tooth and nail to prevent any fall in profits from extracting gas and oil from one of the poorest countries in Latin America.
Two of those companies are British Gas and British Petroleum. They are putting a lot of pressure on the Government to revise a new "hydrocarbons" law in their favour. The law is likely to be passed in the next few weeks, so if you haven’t already written already, please write to British Gas today!
*Information provided thanks to Alvaro Rodriguez of CEDLA. I hope to put together a graphic related specifically to BP and British Gas later this week, but it is unlikely to differ much from the general picture.