PDVSA, Iran's Petropars to Develop Natural Gas Blocks

Venezuela's energy and oil ministry signed an agreement with Iran's oil ministry last week to study joint hydrocarbons exploration and production projects, including the development of natural gas fields, the energy and oil ministry said in a statement.

The blocks are still being chosen, energy and oil minister and president of state oil firm PDVSA, Rafael Ramírez, told reporters in Caracas during the state visit of Iran's President Mohammad Khatami.

Technical teams from Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA and Iran's state-owned oil company Petropars will meet in Tehran in May to further negotiations, he said. Khatami and Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez signed 20 memorandums of understanding (MOUs) during Khatami's visit to Venezuela, the bulk of which focused on energy cooperation. The petrochemical subsidiary of PDVSA, Pequiven, and Iran's National Petrochemical Company (NPC) signed an MOU to develop joint petrochemical projects over the next two years.

Developing Venezuela's extensive natural gas reserves is one of the central tenets of President Hugo Chávez's policy. To that effect, the government has awarded several offshore natural gas blocks in the Plataforma Deltana region, and plans to launch a tender by end-March for gas blocks in the Gulf of Venezuela area.

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