Vietnam Could Produce Syncrude in Orinoco

Vietnam's national oil company PetroVietnam could perform E&P in Venezuela to manufacture synthetic crude from the Orinoco oil belt, Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA said in a statement.

The Asian company would then process the crude in a refinery at home.

The two countries signed an energy agreement during Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's recent visit to Vietnam. The deal includes provisions for "assessing E&P opportunities in both Venezuelan and Vietnamese oilfields," according to PDVSA.

In addition, the deal covers establishing refining, storage and terminals in Vietnam, marketing oil and related products in the Asia Pacific region and providing natural gas, according to PDVSA.

State-owned companies that Venezuela has invited to take part in new energy projects normally enjoy much better conditions than their private counterparts. For instance, the fields are directly awarded instead of being allocated through a costly bidding process.

Currently there are four heavy crude extraction projects in Orinoco. The crude is laden with metals and has 7.5-degree API and needs to go through an expensive upgrading process before it can be sent to a refinery. Once the extra-heavy crude is upgraded, it becomes synthetic crude.

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