Petroandina, a 60/40 joint venture of Bolivian state oil company YPFB and Venezuelan counterpart PDVSA, will invest an additional $35 million this year in a search for oil and gas in La Paz province.

That investment will bring to $151 million the total amount devoted to the Lliquimuni project since the beginning of 2011, YPFB said.

Lliquimuni, located in northern La Paz province, may hold as much as 50 million barrels of oil and 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to an October 2011 study by YPFB.

The zone is part of a hydrocarbon-rich geological formation that extends into Venezuela's Orinoco Belt, which boast some of the largest proven petroleum reserves in the world, YPFB said.

Petroandina expects to drill its first well in La Paz province in December, YPFB president Carlos Villegas said Monday at a forum on economic development.

"The government will spend as much money as is necessary to find petroleum" in the province, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said at the same event.

Bolivia's proven natural gas reserves were estimated at 11.2 trillion cubic feet in December 2012, up from 9.9 trillion feet three years earlier. EFE