Duarte to Ask PDVSA to Drill 12 Exploratory Wells

Paraguay's President Nicanor Duarte will formally request that Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA drill 12 exploratory wells in his country, especially in the Chaco region, the Paraguayan public works ministry said in a statement.

"We are going to ask them to carry out the exploratory wells to evaluate the fields and hydrocarbons potential," Paraguay's public works minister Panfilo Benitez said in the statement.

Benitez and Venezuela's deputy minister of energy and mines Hector Ruiz Diaz have been in preparatory meetings for the extraordinary summit of Mercosur presidents due to take place on July 4.

Paraguay also is interested in developing an exchange between Venezuelan and Paraguayan technicians to prepare PDVSA officials for exploratory works.

Paraguay's president also plans to ask his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez to purchase the Itaipu hydro plant's US$19bn in debt, 20% of which is held by Brazil's federal power holding Eletrobras, with the remainder held by the Brazilian treasury.

Mercosur is a trading bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Venezuela will soon become a member.

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