Last week, Total halted its operations at the Ypergas SA unit because the safety of the workers couldn't be guaranteed after threats were made by unemployed workers. Also, road blocks were put up by the unemployed protesters.
Production at the project was slated to start in January 2004. Labor problems have caused delays at the project on previous occasions.
The field is set to produce around 100 million cubic feet a day of natural gas, which will feed electric utilities and petrochemical plants. Yukal Placer holds total reserves of three trillion cubic feet.
Total holds a 69.5% stake in the project, and Repsol YPF owns 15%. Two small Venezuelan companies hold 10.2% and 5.3%.
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