"There are important gas reserves on the Deltana platform...and we should tell the country that the first results have been excellent, which opens the perspective for natural gas production both in terms of production for the domestic market and for the world market," Ramirez said.
ChevronTexaco holds 60% in the Deltana platform block 2 after selling 40% to ConocoPhillips for an undisclosed amount in June 2003. The companies plan to invest US$2.1bn to develop block 2 through 2004-2009.
ChevronTexaco also holds the contract for block 3, where drilling is scheduled to start in 2005.
Gas from Deltana would be piped to a liquefaction terminal on the eastern Paria peninsula. The terminal is designed to produce 4.7 million tons a year of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export to the eastern US by 2008-2010.
Meanwhile, Ramirez announced that a tender for oil and gas exploration contracts on seven blocks in the Gulf of Venezuela and in northern Falcon state will be ready by the end of the year.
"We are defining the size of the areas we will offer. We will open a scheme that, as dictated in the hydrocarbons law, will not exceedI1,000 sq. km.," Ramirez said.
The ministry is also studying ways to allow local companies to participate in the concessions, the statement said.
The ministry has pre-qualifiedI21 companies to participate in the tender and has previously indicated that the blocks would be awarded towards year-end.
Estimated investment in the blocks in the next three years is US$300mn-400mn.
ChevronTexaco officials were not immediately available for comment Tuesday.
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