PDVSA Okays Vinccler E&P Budget, Drilling to Start August

Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA has approved the US$40.7mn exploration and production budget for its oil and gas joint venture with Vinccler in Falcon state, western Venezuela, Vinccler CFO Clancy Cottman told BNamericas on Thursday.

"Yes, the 2006 budget has been approved," Cottman said in an email. PDVSA is the majority partner in the venture with 60%, while Vinccler - the wholly owned unit of Canada's PetroFalcon (PFC:TSX) - holds the rest. The actual drilling part of the joint venture's E&P program for the year will start as soon as a rig becomes available.

"We are looking for a drilling rig now and hope to start drilling before August," Cottman added.

The company said earlier this month when reporting its Q1 results that current production in the East and West Falcon blocks is 1,250 barrels a day and 4 million cubic feet a day (Mf3/d) of gas.

"The budget includes the drilling of 11 development wells at the La Vela field, one development well and one appraisal well at the Cumarebo field and an exploration well at the West Falcon block," according to a company press release.

However, production of much-needed natural gas will increase soon, Cottman said.

"Gas is set to start flowing into ICO [pipeline] in June from the Cumarebo field."

ICO, a pipeline completed in December by PDVSA Gas, is expected to supply thermal power plants in western Venezuela with natural gas to replace pricier liquid fuels soon. According to company documents, Vinccler will soon be putting 12Mf3/d into ICO.

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