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Russian-Latin American exploration pact signed

Russian bank to own operating rights to huge natural gas reserves in Venezuelan state

Venezuela is the fifth largest oil exporting country in the world with the largest reserves of heavy crude oil

A Latin American subsidiary of Russia’s third biggest lender will operate two oil fields in northwestern Venezuela in a joint venture with Corporacion Venezolana del Petroleo, or CVP, the government said.

The government transferred the exploration and production rights for crude and natural gas in the Bachaquero Tierra and Lagunillas Tierra fields, in northwest state, Zulia state, to the joint venture formed by CVP, a unit of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, and Gazprombak, according to a decree on 10 April.

The joint venture also has the right to gather, transport and store petroleum and natural gas, as well as to provide services "at market prices" to other joint ventures or public companies, the decree said.

It will operate "during the period of 25 years", with any disputes "resolved in accordance with the legislation" of Venezuela, the decree said.

Russian gas giant Gazprom plans to explore for gas in blocks in the Gulf of Venezuela after restructuring the terms of two licenses it acquired in 2005 at a cost of USD 10m each, the Communications Ministry said last month.

The restructuring of the permits for Gazprom subsidiaries UrdanetaGazprom-2 and UrdanetaGazprom-1 was prompted by the redesign of the Rafael Urdaneta Project in Venezuelan waters.

Gazprom won the bidding for gas exploration and production rights in the Gulf of Venezuela in September 2005.

The gas giant holds the rights to the Rafael Urdaneta Project's Urumaco-1 and Urumaco-2 blocks, where it started drilling wells in 2007.

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