PDVSA Eyes Drill Platform for Natural Gas Project

MARACAIBO (Dow Jones Newswires), June 17, 2008

Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PdVSA, is looking into the possible purchase of a semi-submersible drilling platform for the Mariscal Sucre natural gas project, a company official said Tuesday.

"We want to bring here a semi-submersible platform for the Mariscal Sucre project," Luis Vierma, PdVSA vice president and head of exploration and production, told reporters on the sidelines of the XIX Latin American Petroleum Show in Maracaibo. "We're negotiating it right now, but we want to have it here the coming year," he said.

Vierma said the company just began its first drilling activity offshore over the weekend with the arrival of the Neptune Discoverer drill ship. The ship is part of a $785 million, four-year contract PdVSA signed with Neptune Marine Oil & Gas Ltd. (NEPT.NO) late last year for the Mariscal Sucre venture.

PdVSA said earlier in the week that the Neptune agreement calls for the drilling of 21 offshore natural gas wells. Mariscal Sucre is considered the foundation of President Hugo Chavez's plan to generate natural gas for local consumption. The project is estimated to cost between $2.5 billion and $3 billion.

Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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