PDVSA, CNPC Begin Junin 4 Block Drilling

Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) have begun drilling the first evaluation well at the Junin 4 block in Venezuela's Orinoco oil belt, PDVSA said in a statement.

The J4-05 well is one of 18 wells to be drilled to quantify reserves, the statement said. The works are due to wrap up next year.

The Junín area covers 14,580 sq km and is divided into 10 blocks. PDVSA estimates the area holds 36Bb.

President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela supplies 154,000b/d of oil to China and aims to increase supply to 300,000b/d in 2007 and 500,000b/d in 2008.

CNPC is one of several companies quantifying reserves in the Orinoco, estimated to hold 235Bb of crude, which would increase Venezuela's reserves to 316Bb.

PDVSA claims the Orinoco is the world's largest liquid hydrocarbons reserve.

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