Venezuela To Ink Preliminary Deltana Gas Deals

Venezuela will sign initial agreements today for development of the five offshore natural gas blocks in the Deltana Platform development. The pre-selection is an initial stage that will narrow the field of possible developers, but companies will still have to hammer out their final proposals with the government. "Investments in the project are estimated to be approximately $4 billion," a ministry release said.

BP, ExxonMobil, and TotalFinaElf are each in discussions for specific blocks. In addition, BG and ChevronTexaco are in negotiations for one tract, while El Paso and Statoil are in talks for another block. The names of the areas that will be given in the concession are Cocuina, Laulau, Loran, Dorado and a block located near the south that does not yet have a name. All of the fields are located on the maritime border of Trinidad and Tobago.

Selected firms will partner with PDVSA, which will have a stake between 1 percent and 35 percent in each of the ventures. In addition, for some of the tracts companies will have to engage in a limited competitive bidding process. The government is expected to announce which firms will develop the projects by the end of this year.