State oil firm PDVSA says there are a total 235 billion barrels of crude in the Orinoco belt, where Repsol YPF was one of seven companies hired to conduct reserve certification work.
"This is April, so it could be that by the end of this year we'll drill to verify technical data," Alvarez said.
Repsol YPF began its study two months ago, he said, adding that PDVSA drilled exploratory wells in the Junín 7 block decades ago.
"We are studying the wells that are there already. The whole study will take about a year," Alvarez added.
PDVSA is preparing to increase production of Orinoco extra-heavy crude, which is currently about 500,000 barrels a day (b/d) from four existing joint ventures.
On Tuesday company deputy president for refining Alejandro Granado told reporters that Canada's SNC-Lavalin, one of the world's largest construction firms, is preparing plans for a large crude upgrading facility to be located in the Orinoco with initial capacity of 200,000b/d. The upgrading center will be ready by 2010, Granado said.
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