Repsol Unlocks Giant Gas Discovery in Gulf of Venezuela

MADRID (Dow Jones Newswires), Sept. 11, 2009

Spanish energy company Repsol YPF SA (REP) said Friday it has made a giant gas discovery in shallow waters of the Gulf of Venezuela that may hold reserves equal to more than five years of gas consumption in Spain.

Repsol, in an exploration partnership with Italy's Eni SPA (E), estimates the offshore Perla 1 well could hold between 7 and 8 trillion cubic feet, representing one of the largest discoveries in the world and the largest on record for Repsol.

The offshore field is 60 meters deep and could have a surface of 33 square kilometers, Repsol said in a press release.

"But we need to complete tests to determine the exact size of the field," said a company spokesman, adding this could take several weeks.

Earlier Friday, Spain's leading daily El Pais newspaper quoted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as saying that of the volume found, some 1.5 to 2 trillion cubic feet could be recoverable. Repsol couldn't immediately confirm that figure.

Chavez, who is in Madrid, held an informal meeting with Repsol Chairman Antonio Brufau earlier Friday.

In the case of future production, Repsol's and Eni's respective stakes would be reduced to 32.5% each, while Venezuela's state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA would get a 35% stake.

The find comes after Brazilian state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR), or Petrobras, said earlier this week its offshore Guara field, in which Repsol holds 25%, has estimated recoverable reserves of 1.1 billion to 2 billion barrels of oil equivalent.  

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