Ballenas NatGas Field to Ramp Up to 20Mm3/d

Ballenas, the Colombian natural gas field operated by US oil major Chevron (NYSE: CVX) and state oil company Ecopetrol will soon be ready to increase production to 700Mf3/d (20Mm3/d), a top Chevron official told BNamericas.

The field is producing roughly 450Mf3/d and with the planned expansion will be able to export an initial 160Mf3/d to Venezuela.

"The gas will come from Ecopetrol and Chevron's operation in Ballenas. We are hoping to be able to finalize everything this year or the beginning of next year," Chevron Latin America Upstream president Ali Moshiri said.

Operators have drilled three new wells in Ballenas, he said.

"Production and capacity are ready. As soon as the pipeline arrives, we will be ready to provide the gas," he said in reference to the 312km, bilateral pipeline being built by Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA.

Pipeline construction is advancing "extremely well" and could wrap up in 2008, Moshiri said. The pipeline will link Venezuela's Maracaibo with the Ballenas field.

Venezuela needs the natural gas for thermal generation, oil refining and petrochemicals manufacturing.

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