PDVSA to Launch Tender for 56 Drilling Rigs

Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA will launch an international tender this year to acquire 56 drilling rigs, local press quoted energy and oil minister and PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez as saying.

The new rigs would be installed along the Orinoco heavy crude oil belt.

"We can't say yet when it's going to take place or what companies the tender will be open to. The national assembly will make that decision," a PDVSA spokesperson told BNamericas.

Ramirez also confirmed production in the Orinoco's Carabobo block would soon begin, the newspaper reported. PDVSA, however, has not set a specific date for when production will start, the PDVSA spokesperson said.

"The rig shortage is affecting all oil-producing countries," Panorama de Maracaibo quoted Ramirez as saying.

The price of a standard rig has risen from around US$200,000 to US$450,000 and Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) or Mexico's state oil company Pemex will buy them if PDVSA does not, he added.

PDVSA announced this month it will invest US$3.5bn in the acquisition of new drilling rigs, all the while enduring labor unrest surrounding the nationalization of several rigs in western parts of the country, BNamericas previously reported.

PDVSA spends an average of 25.4mn bolivares (US$11,828 at the official rate) a day per rig to finance rigs operated by third parties compared to the 17.6mn bolivares it spends to operate each of its own rigs.

PDVSA wants to have 202 rigs operating in the country to reach its 2012 Plan Siembra Petrolera goal of producing 5.8Mb/d.

PDVSA has reached an agreement with China to acquire new rigs. Nearly 140 PDVSA engineers are in China developing a plan to construct rigs completely in Venezuela.

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