The deposits are in former oil E&P areas near Lake Maracaibo in Zulia state, said Jorge Luis Sánchez, president of gas regulator Enagas.
"What we are doing there is deflating," he said. "These are oil wells where gas was injected for 50 years. They are important amounts: the production they can sustain is more than 300Mf3/d."
Venezuela produces 6.5 billion cubic feet a day (Bf3/d) of natural gas but secondary oil recovery consumes roughly 70% of output, meaning thermal generation, refining, petrochemicals and other industries are left with a deficit of at least 1Bf3/d, according to the government.
A similar procedure is underway in former oilfields in eastern Venezuela.
Venezuelan planners have focused in the past on oil recovery rather than the country's natural gas reserves. As a result, thermal generation is geared toward burning expensive diesel rather than cheaper natural gas.
Increased oil prices have made it even more expensive to burn diesel, which is a profitable export commodity, so planners are increasingly turning their attention to Venezuela's natural gas supplies.
PDVSA Gas, a subsidiary of state oil firm PDVSA, is Venezuela's top natural gas producer.
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