PdVSA to Take Over Rig for Drilling Off Cuban Coast

CARACAS - Venezuela's state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PdVSA, will take over a rig for an exploration project off Cuba's west coast "in the upcoming days" after a Malaysian-Russian consortium was unable to make a commercial discovery using the rig at a separate site, a statement in Cuban state newspaper Granma said Monday.

The Venezuelan company will receive control of the Scarabeo 9 platform to begin exploration drilling in deep waters off Cuba's coast with the Gulf of Mexico, the state publication said.

A joint venture between a subsidiary of Malaysia's Petronas and Russia's Gazprom Neft, which was using the rig, said a geological survey found unearthed rocks "very compact and unable to deliver significant quantities of oil and gas," according to the same statement in Granma. That project concluded July 31.

Scarabeo 9 was the advanced oil platform vacated by Spain's Repsol SA in May after it too was unable to find oil in a separate drilling project.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has maintained close ties with Cuba and often calls former Cuban leader Fidel Castro his personal mentor. Venezuela sends Cuba around 100,000 barrels of oil a day in exchange for around 30,000 Cuban doctors who service Venezuelan slums.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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