RIO DE JANEIRO—Russia has never played a relevant role in Brazil’s oil and gas industry. But this relationship might change.

In late October, Russia’s gas exporting monopoly Gazprom said Brazil—the biggest oil and gas producer in South America—is in its plan for future investments.

Gazprom, which accounts for 11% of world gas production, already has operations in Bolivia and Venezuela. However, Gazprom has a small presence in Brazil with one office in Rio de Janeiro, which opened in 2012.

Our plan now is to expand our operations in Brazil. The country has great potential in the natural gas segment. Therefore, we are seeking opportunities here in Brazil,” said Shakarbek Osmonov, head of the Gazprom in Brazil and Latin America, said during a conference in Rio de Janeiro. The meeting was attended by members of the Russian government, scholars and entrepreneurs.

The company’s executive director also mentioned that Brazil’s natural gas segment offers great opportunities. These business opportunities come thanks to the Brazilian government’s move to increase the use of natural gas in the country.

Currently, natural gas accounts for only 10% of Brazil’s energy matrix. Yet, Brazil’s natural gas market is expecting a boom over the next few years with new players and more investments as the government works to change policies.

According to Brazil’s Energy Research Company EPE, domestic demand for natural gas will reach 171.7 million cubic meters a day (MMcm/d) in 2024. Today, Brazil’s domestic demand for natural gas is about 80 MMcm/d.

During the conference, Osmonov said Gazprom can provide a wide range of solutions in the natural ​gas segment.

“We have vast experience, and we have specialized companies that can supervise, manage and maintain underground gas storage facilities. And Brazil is very interesting in that area,” Osmonov said.

Not only is Brazil on Gazprom’s radar in South America, but Bolivia and Venezuela are also a part of the company’s plan to expand its presence in the region. “We are working in Venezuela and Bolivia, where we also have plans to expand our work there and in other countries,” the executive said.

Venezuela, Bolivia

Gazprom started its operations in South America in Venezuela. The Russian company acquired the Urumaco-1 and Urumaco-2 blocks. The area is expected to have roughly 100 billion cubic meters (Bcm) of natural gas.

Recently, Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, intensified his efforts to attract Russian investors to the country to help deal with the current financial crisis. Talks between Maduro and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in that matter have been successfully conducted, according to official statements from both sides.

In Bolivia, Gazprom operates in partnership with YPFB and Total in the Incahuasi Field, which already produces 8 MMcm/d of gas. The field, which covers 7,856 sq km, is expected to reach 19 MMcm in the second phase of the project.

The Incahuasi Field is located within the Ipati and Aquio licensed blocks. The field is being developed by a consortium consisting of Total(operator, 50%), Gazprom (20%), Tecpetrol S.A. (20%) and YPFB (10%).

The consortium plans to double gas production at Bolivia’s Incahuasi Field to 13 MMcm/d by mid-2019, according to Gazprom.

Besides the Incahuase Field, Gazprom and YPFB set to sign an agreement on strategic cooperation to explore La Ceiba, Vitiacua, and Madidi, promising blocks located in Bolivia

Gazprom currently has 467,000 employees worldwide and holds 36.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves. In 2016, the company’s daily gas production reached 419 MMcm, although it was capable of suppling 600 MMcm.

In December 2016, Gazprom said it hadreached 33.5% of the European market. According to Russia’s Interfax, Gazprom supplied 179 Bcm of gas to the European countries compared to 159.4 Bcm supplied in the previous year.