Venezuela's PdVSA Signs Oil Joint Venture with Belarus Co

CARACAS Dec 07, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Venezuela's Petroleos de Venezuela, or PdVSA, has partnered with Belarus state-run company Belorusneft in a joint-venture company to explore and develop oil and natural gas in the Andean country, one of several joint ventures between the two nations.

The new company's activities will focus on fields located in the Guara Este area in the Anzoategui state, and Lake Maracaibo fields located in Western Venezuela, according to a copy of the joint venture accord published in the Official Gazette.

Under the terms of the deal, PdVSA would control 60% of the company and Belorusneft would own 40%. The accord gives Belorusneft, a small oil company that pumps oil in Belarus, a place among top oil companies working in Venezuela.

The accord, however, makes no mention of a future participation of Belorusneft in the Orinoco heavy oil area, as some people expected.

In recent years, Chavez's relations with some major oil companies have soured after he asked top partners to accept minority stakes in the Orinoco ventures with PdVSA in control. ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP) both declined and left. The others, namely Total Oil (TOT), Statoil ASA (STO), Chevron Corp. (CVX) and BP Plc (BP), opted to stay.

At the same time, Chavez has strengthened relations with national oil companies from close political allies, such as China, Russia, Belarus, Iran, India, Uruguay and Argentina.

Venezuela has also signed a joint-venture accord for a construction and housing firm to address a critical housing shortage in the oil-rich country.

The official gazette notes that 51% of the company will be in the hands of the Venezuelan company and the rest owned by Belzarubezhstroi SA, a company owned by the Belarus government.

Venezuelan government officials announced late in the day plans to sign joint-venture agreements to create tractor and mining truck assembly plants in Venezuela.

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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