PDVSA to Define Contract Scheme by Year-End

Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA should define a contract scheme for private participation in existing and new oil and gas fields by the end of the year, the president of the Anzoategui chapter of Venezuela's oil chamber, Jose Antonio Perez, told BNamericas. "There is no clear policy about which fields would be tendered, but it should be defined by the end of the year," he said. PDVSA officials were not immediately available for comment.

"There is a tendency to seek support from specialized companies to maintain and operate fields because PDVSA, as it is structured right now, does not have the capacity to absorb the operation of new fields," he said. Half the workforce was sacked during and after the two-month strike that started in December 2002, so PDVSA does not have the personnel to maintain production without private participation, he added. PDVSA is also seeking private participation in new exploration blocks, particularly on the Deltana natural gas platform. The company has formed a commission, called 'Pospan-Gas,' with the energy and mines ministry, the national oil chamber and private companies to organize tenders for blocks on the Deltana platform. "There is a lot of pressure for Venezuelan companies to be involved in these tenders as well as foreign companies," he said. PDVSA awarded two of the five Deltana blocks, to Norway's Statoil and US company ChevronTexaco, in February. Venezuela's deputy minister of hydrocarbons Luis Vierma is expected to announce plans to award the remaining blocks next week, a ministry source told BNamericas.

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