Statoil to Finish Venezuela Deltana Gas Well in 1 Month

CARACAS, Texas Oct 26, 2006 (Dow Jones Newswires) Statoil ASA (STO) will finish a wildcat well in Venezuela's offshore Deltana natural gas platform in around a month, and well logs from the drilling program show signs of gas reserves, said a company spokeswoman on Thursday.

PdVSA President Rafael Ramirez said Thursday that initial drilling results show 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves in the block, but the spokeswoman said it is too early to assess the amount of reserves because the well is not finished.

"We have not performed the well test; it is premature to make any assessment at this time," said the spokeswoman.

Ramirez, however, said the well drilled through a 120-foot layer of gas reserves, indicating that the block holds more gas than originally expected.

"It was an area with an outlook for 0.3 trillion cubic feet; now it has turned into an area with 7 trillion cubic feet," Ramirez told reporters at an oil event on Thursday.

Statoil won a license in 2003 to operate block four in the Deltana platform. Transocean (RIG) provided the rig for the drilling program. The Deltana contains an estimated 40 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. The area is a continental shelf extension of the Orinoco River delta along the eastern coast of the country.

Despite the country's vast reserves, Venezuela is struggling to erase a domestic gas deficit and does not expect to begin exporting the fuel until the end of the decade.

Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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