First Orinoco Block to be Certified November, Holds 5Bb

The Carabobo 1 block in Venezuela's Orinoco extra-heavy crude oil belt will in November become the first Orinoco block with certified reserves, the general manager of the reserves certification process told BNamericas.

Carabobo 1 holds some 5 billion barrels (Bb), said Pedro Leon, who works at the CVP subsidiary of state oil company PDVSA. CVP administers all PDVSA dealings with domestic and foreign partners.

Canada's Ryder Scott has been retained to certify the findings, Leon added.

Carabobo 1 is one of the seven blocks in the Orinoco where PDVSA and seven foreign oil companies, most of them state-owned, are conducting reserves certification. Carabobo 1 in particular is being jointly explored with Brazil's Petrobras (NYSE: PBR).

"In 10 days we will drill our first exploratory well there, Carabobo 1X," Leon said, thus initiating phase 2 of the Magna Reserva assessment process.

Overall, 14 exploratory wells will be drilled in the block before year-end. The crude there is 7.5-14 degrees API.

The Orinoco belt is thought to hold a trillion barrels of oil, but how much oil there really is depends greatly on the recovery factor allowed by new technologies, Leon said, saying that 400Bb is a good estimate, with a recovery factor of 20%.

The other six blocks where joint reserve assessment work is underway are: Ayacucho 7 with Iran's Petropars; Ayacucho 3 with Russia's Gazprom; Junin Norte with India's ONGC; Junin 3 with Russia's Lukoil; Junin 4 with China's CNPC ; and Junin 7 with Spain's Repsol YPF (NYSE: REP). PDVSA is going solo in another 17 blocks.

Certifying all of the reserves in the Orinoco could take up to three years.

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