Venezuela Wants Oil Firm Harvest Out, If It Can Find Deep-Pocketed Buyer


ORINOCO OIL BELT, Venezuela, April 20 (Reuters) - Venezuela would prefer oil company Harvest Natural Resources Inc to leave the OPEC nation, but wants it to sell a project stake to a company with financial muscle to make major investments, state oil company PDVSA said.

Harvest has been seeking to sell its stake in joint venture Petrodelta following years complaining that PDVSA is not allowing it to collect dividends. Venezuela has blocked two proposals to sell that stake to other companies.

The buyer of Harvest's stake should be willing to pay a bonus to the government and put in roughly $600 million over five years to boost Petrodelta output from 40,000 barrels per day to 100,000 bpd, PDVSA President Eulogio Del Pino said.

"Harvest is an example of the partner who does not have the capability. They only want to get the dividend, not invest," he said during a trip in recent days with reporters to the Orinoco Belt.

"But we require the partner to have the capability to finance. We require financing and a bonus to the government."

A new advantageous foreign exchange rate system in Venezuela may drive down an initially required $1.2 billion in estimated investment to around $600 million, Del Pino added.

Harvest in 2013 negotiated agreements with Indonesia's Pertamina PT and Argentina's Pluspetrol to sell its 32 percent stake in Petrodelta, both of which were shot down.

"We didn't approve that because they didn't have the financing," Del Pino said.

Harvest did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

PDVSA, which has heavy social spending commitments in Venezuela that affect its cash flow, has required joint venture partners to pay sizeable bonuses for access to oil fields and to obtain financing for any necessary investment.

It made a "fair" offer to buy the stake from Harvest, a source close to PDVSA told Reuters last week. Harvest responded that it had not received any offer that would be "remotely fair and equitable" to the firm's shareholders.

"We would prefer to negotiate a fair value. It is a normal process of negotiation," Del Pino said.

Petrodelta, located in Venezuela's northeast, produces 42,853 barrels per day, according to Harvest's 2014 results.

(Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Alexandra Ulmer and W Simon)


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