ChevronTexaco Completes Hamaca Crude Upgrading Facility

ChevronTexaco has completed construction of the Hamaca project's crude upgrading facility at the Jose Industrial Complex, located on the northeastern coast of Venezuela. The milestone signifies the start of a production ramp-up to occur during the fourth quarter of this year from the current production of 120,000 barrels of oil per day.

The Hamaca upgrader has the capacity to process 190,000 barrels per day of extra-heavy crude from the Hamaca region of the Orinoco Belt and transform it into 180,000 barrels per day of high-quality synthetic crude. Over the life of the project, more than 2 billion barrels of crude oil are expected to be produced and upgraded. A ChevronTexaco affiliate holds a 30 percent interest in the project.

The completion of the upgrader is a project milestone as the facility constitutes the core infrastructure of the $3.8 billion Hamaca project investment and serves as one component of ChevronTexaco's global upstream growth program. Hamaca integrates state-of-the-art producing technologies with the latest refining process methods that together give the Hamaca Field similar financial characteristics to many light oil operations. Production from Hamaca will be delivered to refining customers in the international market.

"The successful completion of the Hamaca project results from ChevronTexaco's combined emphasis on work-force safety, capital stewardship and top financial performance," said George Kirkland, president of ChevronTexaco Overseas Petroleum. "This accomplishment supports our key upstream strategy of maximizing and growing the value of our base business, and it comes at an important time when global demand for energy is increasing. The Hamaca project and Venezuela, in general, are well positioned to be reliable, long-term contributors in meeting that demand."

Kirkland added that one of the aspects that attracted ChevronTexaco to the Hamaca project was its world-class-size resource base. Venezuela's Orinoco Belt contains the largest known hydrocarbon deposit in the world. Accordingly, the project is fertile ground for the continual application of next-generation producing and refining technologies aimed at improving recovery.

Ali Moshiri, president of ChevronTexaco Latin America Upstream, said: "Bringing this challenging upgrading unit into operation, as planned and on budget, is an exciting and significant achievement made possible through the excellent collaboration and teamwork between Petrolera Ameriven (operating agent for the partners), PDVSA (Venezuela's state oil company), ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips."

The massive effort during the upgrader construction required more than 40 million work hours and provided employment for more than 11,000 people during peak construction.

During the past three years, more than 50 million barrels of extra-heavy oil have been produced by blending it with a light crude supplied by PDVSA, allowing production levels to gradually increase to the current level of 120,000 barrels per day.