Oil Production Started at PdVSA-Repsol Venezuela Venture

CARACAS - Spain's Repsol SA began oil production at its Petrocarabobo joint venture with state energy monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela, or PdVSA, in the South American country's vast Orinoco heavy oil belt, the company said Thursday.

The tapping of the first well puts forward "an accelerated plan" for developing the oil block, Respol said in a statement on its website. The Spanish company said the project aims to produce 30,000 barrels a day of crude oil in the first development phase and 90,000 barrels in the second phase, but didn't specify when it plans to reach those targets.

President Hugo Chavez's government is counting on the joint ventures it has formed with foreign oil partners to reach lofty goals for increasing production in coming years. Venezuela, which has seen output mostly stagnate during Mr. Chavez's 14-year reign, had said it wanted to end this year with production of 3.5 million barrels a day and reach 4 million barrels by 2014, compared with around 3 million barrels at the beginning of 2012.

Repsol said Petrocarabobo is slated to produce 400,000 barrels of heavy oil a day in coming years, and includes the eventual construction of an upgrader facility that is needed to convert the region's tar-like crude into a usable and exportable commodity.

PdVSA holds a 60% stake in Petrocarabobo while Repsol, which was part of a consortium on foreign companies to invest in the block, owns 11% of the project.

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

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