Rosneft Visits Venezuela, Seeks to Drill in Delta Centro Block

Rosneft President Sergey Bogdanchikov joined a delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Igor Sechin on a visit to Venezuela. During the visit, the delegation took part in a meeting of the Russian-Venezuelan intergovernment commission held in Caracas, which addressed various aspects of promoting economic cooperation between the two countries.

According to Bogdanchikov, the Russian Government has recently established the National Oil Consortium, intended to develop Venezuelan hydrocarbon resources and operating on a rotational basis. The Consortium comprises Rosneft, Gazprom, Lukoil, Surgutneftegaz, and TNK-BP, each holding a 20% stake.

Sergey Bogdanchikov said that the Consortium will be a partner of the Venezuelan national Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) to develop oil fields in the Carabobo state. He also added that PDVSA is expected to have a controlling stake in the project. Expanding on the subject, Rosneft President noted that a proposal has already been forwarded to the Venezuelan government on development of the Delta Centro block (the Orinoco estuary) jointly with PDVSA.

According to Bogdanchikov, total prospective resources of Delta Centro are estimated at approximately 300 mln. tonnes of oil. Crude in this area is of a lighter grade as compared to the so-called "Orinoco heavy crude belt," and therefore no upgraders are required to process such feedstock, Sergey Bogdanchikov commented. However, the Rosneft President added that the Company has not yet received a reply to its proposal from the Venezuelan government.

Talking to the journalists that attended, Sergey Bogdanchikov stressed that Rosneft does not plan any share buybacks as it already holds 9.44% of own shares. Bogdanchikov also highlighted the success of Rosneft's recent road show in Eastern Asia and Arab countries aimed at attracting new investors: "As a result, we have already signed several lucrative agreements," Rosneft's President said.

Sergey Bogdanchikov also noted that the Company has developed a comprehensive anti-crisis program to ensure a positive free cash flow is achieved in 2009 amid the global financial turmoil. Rosneft Board of Directors plans to review this program later in November.