Statoil to Start Deltana Drilling 1Q04

Norwegian oil company Statoil will start drilling three exploration wells on block 4 of Venezuela's Deltana natural gas platform in the first quarter 2004, Statoil spokesperson Kai Nielsen told BNamericas.

Statoil intends to hire local companies in line with national content guidelines included in the Deltana platform exploration contracts, the company told Venezuela's energy ministry, government press agency Venpres reported.

However, "in drilling operations, it's limited how much you would involve local industry, but if you make a find sufficient to develop then you start looking for local industry," Nielsen said. Statoil is keen to get local companies involved in the project. "That is part of our policy when we go abroad," Nielsen said, adding local companies could contribute supply vessels and onshore facilities.

The ministry awarded Statoil the block in February this year. Statoil paid a US$32mn signature bonus and committed to invest US$60mn in the drilling over the next four years.

Statoil currently has interests in two Venezuelan production licenses: 15% of the Sincor heavy crude project in the Orinoco Belt and 27% of the LL 652 oil field in Lake Maracaibo.

US-based oil company Chevrontexaco operates the Deltana platform's block 2, and recently awarded a local consortium the study to evaluate local industry capabilities to provide goods and services for gas projects.

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