PDVSA Could Tender 7 Offshore Gas Blocks in 2006

Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA could tender exploration and production licenses on seven offshore natural gas blocks in eastern Venezuela in 2006, PDVSA Gas president AnÝbal Rosas told BNamericas on Monday.

"In the Deltana Platform area there are five blocks, two in the Gulf of Paria," Rosas said on the sidelines of a petrochemicals industry event sponsored by state-owned petrochemicals firm Pequiven.

"There are plans to accelerate offshore exploitation and for that you need the licenses," the official said.

PDVSA will partner with Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) to explore four other blocks in the Mariscal Sucre region, Rosas said.

PDVSA recently awarded three offshore gas blocks in western Venezuela in the second phase of the Rafael Urdaneta project but plans to carry out more seismic studies in the area before restarting the project in 2007, PDVSA officials have said.

The winners in Rafael Urdaneta phase 2 were Vinccler Oil & Gas, the Venezuelan unit of Canadian oil company PetroFalcon, Petrobras, Japanese energy firm Teikoku, Italy's Eni and Spain's Repsol YPF (NYSE: REP).

PDVSA currently produces about 6.5 billion cubic feet a day (Bf3/d) of natural gas most of which is used for secondary crude recovery and the remainder - some 2.2Bf3/d - for uses such as thermal generation, refining and petrochemicals production. Gas production could rise to 8Bf3/d by the end of 2006 "with what we are going to do onshore as well as offshore," Rosas said.

By 2012 offshore gas production could be around 2Bf3/d and the nationwide total some 12Bf3/d, or double current production, he added. PDVSA eventually plans to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to North America once domestic demand is met.

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