ExxonMobil and Venezuela Discuss LNG Project

Venezuelan Oil Minister Alvaro Silva met with officials of ExxonMobil earlier this week to discuss the company's participation in the $2 billion Paria liquefied natural gas project, a ministry spokesman said Thursday.

The meeting was set as ExxonMobil fears being excluded from the project, after the government admitted it started talks with Qatar. No details of the meeting were given. Earlier this year, Venezuela increased its stake in the project to 60% from 33%. The project is scheduled to begin operating in 2005 with an initial production capacity of 4 million metric tons a year.

The $2 billion venture in the Paria peninsula originally consisted of Shell, ExxonMobil and Mitsubishi Corp. Shell was to control 30% of the deal and provide liquefaction technology. ExxonMobil was to hold 29% and contribute its offshore drilling expertise. Mitsubishi was to take 8% and bring its tankers and financing muscle into the deal.