Spanish oil and gas group Repsol has reportedly made major natural gas discovery in the Caipipendi block in southern Bolivia.

The firm discovered 4 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of potential natural gas reserves in Bolivia and expects to start production in 2019.

Reuters cited the government and company said as saying in a joint statement that the finding could boost reserves by 40% in the South American country.

Repsol Bolivian unit head Diego Diaz said that the Caipipendi block, which comprises three fields including Boicobo, Ipaguazu and Boyuy, is estimated to produce gas enough to meet the demands of neighboring Brazil for over 10 years.

Repsol operates the block with 37.5% stake while other partners include BG with 37.5% and PAE with 25% interest. Bolivia’s state-run energy company YPFB is expected to take 82% of earnings upon starting production.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said: "This news is a surprise. We had forecast 17 tcf through 2020 and Repsol’s new discovery wasn’t in our plans."

With the new discovery, Bolivia is estimated to hold 10.45 tcf of proven reserves.

Bolivia Energy Minister Luis Alberto Sanchez said that the new discovery is expected to add $1.3bn to the annual oil and gas proceeds for the country.

Morales said that about $2.4bn is planned to be invested by the government in exploration and extraction in 2016.

Repsol has mining rights to 26 blocks in Bolivia including four exploratory licenses and 22 under development.

In 2015, Repsol has made new gas discovery in the Margarita-Huacaya block, in Bolivia.