PdVSA to Launch Orinoco Oil Tender in 1 to 2 Months

CARACAS, March 26, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Petroleos de Venezuela, or PdVSA, could launch a tender for a field in the Orinoco heavy oil basin in a matter of two months or sooner, a company executive said Wednesday.

"In the tender for licenses to operate Carabobo 1 oil field blocs, the work is very much advanced and the announcement could come in one or two months," a company executive involved in the process told Dow Jones Newswires.

The government of President Hugo Chavez is expected to seek partners to develop Carabobo 1, a field that is estimated to hold 10 billion barrels of heavy crude. The licensing round would be the first such event since Chavez decided last year to nationalize four heavy-crude upgrading ventures and offered foreign partners minority stakes.

The decision was rejected by U.S. companies ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp., and both filed arbitration proceedings to secure compensation.

Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez has said the government plans to launch the Carabobo tender sometime this year but has yet to give a date.

Most observers expect Venezuela to cement closer ties with state-run oil companies through future oil deals, part of Chavez's policy of strengthening business relations with companies from nations such as Iran, China, Russia and Cuba.

Energy companies from these and other friendly countries already are helping PdVSA quantify the heavy oil reserves in the Orinoco region.

CARACAS, March 26, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)