Bolivian President Evo Morales on Friday inaugurated the construction of a liquefied natural gas plant, a project to be undertaken by a Spanish consortium made up of Sener Ingenieria y Sistemas S.A. and Ros Roca Indox Cryo Energy.

State energy firm YPFB is financing construction of the $137 million LNG plant, which will be built in the Rio Grande district of the eastern province of Santa Cruz.

The plant will have the capacity to process 13 million cubic feet per day of natural gas and liquefy 200 metric tons per day of the fuel.

The plant will convert the gas into liquid for domestic use in six of Bolivia's nine regions, where re-gasification installations will be built by the same consortium to distribute the gas via pipes to 140,000 homes and 5,000 commercial users.

Morales recalled that early last decade former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada's administration had proposed building an LNG plant on the Pacific coast with the aim of transporting the fuel to the U.S. market.

The project, which would have involved liquefying Bolivia's gas in Chile, was scrapped due to social upheaval surrounding the proposed sale of natural gas to the United States and the plans to ship the fuel via a port in Chile, a country with which Bolivia has a long-simmering territorial dispute.

Morales said this week that Oct. 17, the date in 2003 on which Sanchez de Lozada resigned and fled to the United States amid the widespread protests, would be declared National Dignity Day. EFE