Venezuela, South Africa Explore Orinoco Oil Deals

Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt
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Petroleos de Venezuela S.A.
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CARACAS (Dow Jones Newswires), September 2, 2008

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez met with his South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki Tuesday in a meeting where both leaders vowed to explore joint oil projects in the Orinoco basin.

The conversations between both nations, Mbeki said, included jointly "exploiting mature fields (in Venezuela) and drilling in new fields."

Chavez assured reporters during a televised press conference that South Africa would join Venezuela in the heavy-oil Orinoco basin, but gave few details of this possible joint venture. South Africa's Petroleum Oil and Gas Corp. of South Africa, or PetroSA, will work jointly with Petroleos de Venezuela SA, PdVSA, in Venezuelan soil, the Venezuelan information ministry said in a statement after the televised meeting.

The statement quoted Julio Poquioma, exploration chief of PetroSA, on the possibility of working in the Orinoco.

"If we obtain a block in the Orinoco we would be the first African country in the Orinoco basin," he reportedly said. PetroSA, the statement added, has asked Venezuela for access to the development of a heavy oil field in that region.

Over the past few years Venezuela has signed a series of energy agreements including work in the Orinoco basin with countries it considers political allies such as China, Russia, Iran, Vietnam, Cuba and other South American neighbors.

Initially these partners are helping Venezuela quantify and certify the heavy oil reserves found in the crude-rich Orinoco area.

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


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