"The schedule says September but it could be moved further towards the end of the year since both President [Hugo] Chavez and [oil] minister [Rafael] Ramirez have been out of the country for some time now. But definitely this year," Sanchez said.
Three of the blocks will be near La Blanquilla island, near the limits of Venezuelan waters and the furthest from land the country will ever have tried offshore natural gas E&P.
The official, however, shrugged off the notion that the La Blanquilla area has had insufficient exploration.
"Seismic has been done there, for oil, some years ago," he said.
The three other blocks are Punta Pescador, closer to shore; Corocoro; and block 5 of the Deltana platform.
Of the five known blocks in Deltana, two are being explored by US major Chevron (NYSE: CVX), which told BNamericas it has found 7 trillion cubic feet of gas, and another by France's Total (NYSE: TOT) and Norway's Statoil (NYSE: STA). PDVSA Gas has reserved block 1 for itself but will probably take on an outside partner at some point this year.
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