Venezuela, Russian Consortium Gear Up for Orinoco Operations

Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt
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Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, has confirmed that state-run Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is gearing up with a Russian consortium to commence operations in the Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt, reports Dow Jones.

Moreover, the consortium will participate in the latest licensing round of Orinoco fields, thereby securing what industry insiders predict will be a significant position in ongoing and future project developments within the oil-rich region.

"The consortium will begin operations in the Orinoco region," Chavez told local media. "We just signed the official accord with Russia in Vienna."

The Russian consortium will consist of Lukoil Holdings, TNK, OAO Rosneft and OAO Gazprom, in joint cooperation with Venezuela's oil giant PDVSA, the Dow Jones report stated.

At OPEC's meeting in Vienna this past Sunday, Venezuela's Oil Minister, Rafael Ramirez, also reported that his country reached an agreement with Russia to form a consortium which will operate in the Junin 6 block of the Orinoco region. "[The Russian companies] can enter all above-water activities in the joint venture with PDVSA," Ramirez revealed to reporters prior to OPEC's meeting.

Additionally, Ramirez noted that the accord signed by the two countries is an amendment to an existing cooperation agreement for exploration and production activities, which stipulates that an investment of $6 billion will be needed for the Junin 6 block's development.

The Junin 6 block in the Orinoco Petroleum Belt is estimated to have a production capacity of 200,000 barrels per day of crude, according to the Venezuelan oil minister.

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