Venezuela: To Build Offshore Platforms with Iran Firm

CARACAS, Dec 22, 2006 (Dow Jones Newswires)

State-run Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. is teaming up with an Iranian shipbuilding firm to make offshore platforms, said PdVSA on Friday.

PdVSA signed the initial paperwork to form a jointly-owned company with Sadra America Latina, a division of Sadra, an Iranian marine construction firm that has been expanding into the offshore oil and natural gas business. PdVSA said the new venture, Venezirian Oil Company, will give Venezuela access to new offshore technology.

Venezuela is struggling to develop offshore natural gas fields to plug a domestic gas deficit and begin exporting the fuel. Venezuela also uses offshore platforms in the shallower waters of Lake Maracaibo, one of the country's largest oil-producing regions.

"For PdVSA, from the strategic point of view, we lose dependence and win technological autonomy and regional integration," PdVSA Director Eulogio Del Pino said in the statement.

Venezirian will initially build semi-submersible and jack-up platforms in Iran and ship them to Venezuela, and then begin constructing the platforms in Venezuela later on.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has made taken steps to improve economic relations with Iran, who he considers a close ally. Apart from cooperation in the oil industry the two countries have formed joint automobile and tractor companies.

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