ExxonMobil: La Ceiba Oilfield Halts Output

Agencia Operadora La Ceiba (AOLC), which operates the La Ceiba oilfield in Venezuela, has stopped production of about 4,000 barrels a day (b/d), an official from US oil major ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) told BNamericas.

AOLC is a joint venture between ExxonMobil and Canadian oil company Petro-Canada.

The news follows a release from the US company that reads: "Agencia Operadora La Ceiba (AOLC) confirms that, based on instructions from Corporacion Venezolana de Petroleo (CVP) indicating that crude oil liftings from the La Ceiba field will be discontinued, it has proceeded to request to the ministry of energy and petroleum a temporary and safe shut down of production."

There is no date for resuming E&P operations at La Ceiba, the official said.


Relations between ExxonMobil and Venezuela's government have been strained.

In January, after almost two years of negotiations and the signing of a partnership between the US company and Venezuela's state petrochemicals company Pequiven, the US$3bn olefins joint venture fell through.

Last year, Venezuela's government asked ExxonMobil to back out of an offshore natural gas E&P project; and the company sold its stake in the Quaimare-La Ceiba operating service agreement to Spanish firm Repsol YPF (NYSE: REP) rather than accept the terms of a new joint venture controlled by state oil company PDVSA.

ExxonMobil's only ongoing project in Venezuela now is Cerro Negro, a joint venture with PDVSA where each holds a 41.7% stake and the UK's BP (NYSE: BP) the remainder.

Cerro Negro, which has closed down for maintenance, produces extra-heavy crude in the Orinoco oil belt and pipes it to an upgrading unit in Jose, Anzoategui state, where it is turned into 108,000b/d of synthetic crude.

The crude is then shipped to Chalmette, a Louisiana-based, built-to-spec refinery where it is processed. ExxonMobil and PDVSA each control 50% of Chalmette.

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