Venezuela, Companies to Sign Oilfield JVs by April 1

Venezuela's energy and oil ministry expects to sign new joint ventures with private oil companies by April 1 after being converted from oilfield operating service contracts, energy and oil minister and state oil firm PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez told reporters.

Venezuela's government last year ordered oil companies with 32 operating agreements to migrate to joint ventures controlled by state oil company PDVSA as part of President Hugo Chavez's campaign for more state control over the sector.

"We have the clear idea that by April 1 there should be no more operating contracts," Reuters quoted Ramirez as saying.

The 32 fields previously under operating agreements are now under a transition scheme controlled by special transitional technical committees to guarantee normal operations and transition to the new contract model.

The operating agreements run by 22 companies will be reduced to 19 JVs controlled by PDVSA, Ramirez has said.

Venezuela's national assembly will hold a special session soon to respond to questions about the preliminary scheme. The ministry will present a report with economic details of the JV model according to the specifications of each of the now defunct operating agreements, Ramirez said in a PDVSA statement.

The ministry is auditing the investments made under the operating agreements in order to debate the level of participation that corresponds to the private sector and PDVSA in each JV, the statement said.

PDVSA will have an average 60-70% stake in the new JVs, according to previous BNamericas reports.

The contracts now under PDVSA control represent combined production of some 532,000 barrels a day of crude.

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