PDVSA Withdraws $364 Million from FIEM to Fund Exploration

Venezuela has withdrawn $364 million from its Macro Economic Stabilization Fund to fund an investment plan by PDVSA, local daily El Nacional reported Friday. The withdrawal forms part of a total of $2.4 billion that PDVSA President Ali Rodriguez has requested and the National Assembly recently approved.

The $364 million will be used to finance exploration efforts at the Delta Platform Natural Gas project, which is offshore close to the border with Trinidad and Tobago. The Delta Platform consists of 27,000 square kilometers with estimated proven gas reserves of 20 trillion to 30 trillion cubic feet. The first exploratory well has produced 62 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.

The project, which includes a liquefied natural gas plant on the Paria peninsula, could top $7 billion over the next six years and create thousands of jobs. A definite deal could be sealed within a matter of weeks, industry sources say. The FIEM is a rainy-day fund that was supposed to collect half of oil revenue above budgeted levels to protect the economy in times of low oil prices. In the meantime, Venezuelan government officials are denying accusations of misappropriating more than $2 billion from the FIEM to pay for wage hikes and pensions.


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