Ministry to Start Awarding 7 Offshore NatGas E&P Licenses in March

Venezuela's energy and oil ministry plans to start a process to award seven new offshore licenses to explore and produce natural gas in eastern Venezuela in March, national gas regulator Enagas president Jorge Luis Sanchez told BNamericas.

"We are aiming for seven [blocks]," said Sanchez, confirming comments by Anibal Rosas, president of state oil company PDVSA's gas unit PDVSA Gas, who told BNamericas in mid-November the ministry was planning to offer licenses on seven blocks.

Exploration for natural gas is proceeding all over Venezuela, Sanchez said, but the coastline is getting more attention than ever before.

"What we are checking out more than anything else is the offshore part," said Sanchez.

Sanchez emphasized gas discoveries have exceeded expectations in Yucal-Placer, a PDVSA Gas development in eastern Venezuela; in Barrancas, a development by Spanish firm Repsol YPF in central Venezuela; and in Plataforma Deltana, an offshore development by US oil firm Chevron in eastern Venezuela.

"We estimate certain production and then in practice it's 70% more. We explore, make tests and then certify," Sanchez said.

Sanchez disclosed new figures this week that put Venezuela's total natural gas reserves including proven, probable and possible at 426 trillion cubic feet, an amount that would rank the country number four worldwide in terms of reserves between Saudi Arabia (third) and Qatar (fifth).

About Business News Americas: Business News Americas is a multilingual news and business information service that covers the most important original stories in 11 different business sectors throughout Latin America everyday. Visit BNamericas to access our real-time news reports, 7-year archive, Fact File company database, and latest research reports. Click here for a Free two week trial to our Latin America Oil & Gas information service.

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