Venezuela Delays Orinoco Bids by 2 Weeks

According to a report by Bloomberg, the Norwegian embassy in Caracas has confirmed that Venezuela will postpone a major offer of proved reserves to private companies by two or three weeks. The embassy noted that bids were scheduled to launch on April 16.

StatoilHydro, a major Norwegian player in the petroleum industry, will participate in the bidding round for the Carabobo area of the Orinoco Belt, one of the world's largest natural bitumen and heavy oil accumulations. The Carabobo area itself is estimated to hold 32 billion barrels of proved reserves.

For the Carabobo Round, state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, intends to establish three joint ventures with international companies and secure investments between $15 billion and $20 billion for each project, the Norwegian embassy said.

PDVSA unveiled that oil majors BP and Chevron were among 19 companies that paid $2 million for bidding data packages, and that 47 companies were engaged in the auction that began on Oct. 30, Bloomberg reports.

In other news, Oil Minister and PDVSA President Rafael Ramirez, who was unavailable to comment on the bidding round's postponement, said in a statement this week that the company intends to reduce its spending on oil-service contractors by 40%.