PDVSA Wants 60% Stake in Orinoco Projects

Orinoco Oil Belt
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Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA wants to increase its stake in four projects that produce some 500,000 barrels a day (b/d) of synthetic crude to about 60%, company director Eulogio del Pino told BNamericas on Wednesday on the sidelines of the 17th International Gas Convention in Caracas.

"We are very interested in having every one of our businesses migrate to the joint venture scheme, where PDVSA has the majority percentage," PDVSA director Eulogio del Pino said. "In the Orinoco, the process has started. Yes, we have been negotiating with our partners there for a while. These are extremely profitable projects and we are willing to go to 60%."

Del Pino noted that ratings agency Fitch recently downgraded debt ratings for all four Orinoco projects. Having PDVSA, which recently had its debt ratings upgraded, take a larger role in said projects would undoubtedly help their financial standing.

"Banks have approached us saying they would be willing to refinance all that debt," Del Pino said.

While it is not the majority partner in any of the Orinoco upgraders, PDVSA has a sizable stake in each: in Ameriven (formerly Hamaca), where it partners with US oil majors ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX), it has 40%, making it the majority partner; in Cerro Negro, where it partners with ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) and the UK's BP (NYSE: BP), PDVSA has 41.67%, a stake equal to Exxon's; in Sincor, PDVSA has 38% to the 47% held by France's Total (NYSE: TOT), with Norway's Statoil (NYSE: STO) owning the rest. In Petrozuata, again with ConocoPhillips, PDVSA has 49.9%.

A Statoil official in Caracas admitted the companies and PDVSA have been meeting on the Orinoco projects but added the state firm and its partners could devise a middle-of-the road solution by which PDVSA's stake will grow but not by that much.

Venezuelan gas processors' association AVPG organized the conference.

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