ConocoPhillips: Corocoro Field Output May Start Mid-2007

HOUSTON Feb. 23, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

ConocoPhillips (COP) said Friday that its Corocoro field in Venezuela could start producing oil in mid-2007, later than originally expected.

Full-fleged production is expected to start in the third quarter of 2008 with the installation of a central processing platform, but there's "the possibility of production from an interim processing facility in mid-2007," the company said in an annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Corocoro offshore field is a joint venture of Houston-based ConocoPhillips, state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. and Italy's ENI Spa (E). Offshore drilling started in mid-2006, and Venezuelan officials said at the time that initial production would begin in early 2007. A source told Dow Jones Newswires in early February that drilling complications would delay the start-up.

According to Conoco, the arrival and mooring of the floating storage and offloading vessel used to exploit the field and the completion of pipeline infrastructure will occur in the first quarter of 2007. The field contains an estimated 500 million barrels of recoverable oil.

Besides Corocoro, Conoco has massive investments in two Orinoco belt heavy-oil projects, Petrozuata and Hamaca, where the Venezuelan government wants a majority stake and has aggressively stepped up tax scrutiny.

Petrozuata received a preliminary tax audit report from Venezuelan authorities for $245 million in 2002 taxes, and $170 million for municipal sales taxes between 2000 and 2005.

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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