Petroleos de Venezuela to explore for gas in offshore Orinoco Delta

Petroleos de Venezuela SA has begun a $375 million, 2-year exploration program in the waters of the Orinoco Delta, hoping to add natural gas reserves to meet internal and export needs.

HOUSTON, Feb. 5 -- Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) has begun a $375 million, 2-year exploration program in the waters of the Orinoco Delta, hoping to add natural gas reserves to meet internal and export needs.

The area is adjacent to Trinidad and Tobago acreage, 155 miles off Delta Amacuro territory. A mobile offshore drilling unit will drill a dozen exploration and delineation wells in 150-1,500 ft of water.

"This new incursion into the gas business is seen as a potential contribution to meet the need for diversifying energy sources that help shape the country's economic development," said the company. Reserves discovered with the project would improve Venezuela's energy security and improve PDVSA's position in the world market for gas.

PDVSA has sent up logistical bases for the project in Guaraguao, Anzoátegui; Maturín, Monagas; Capure, Delta Amacuro; and Güiria, Sucre.

PDVSA has studied best practices and safety and health issues for the project. It has conducted environmental impact studies and baseline measurement campaigns in the drilling areas. It also has signed mutual aid agreements with companies working in Trinidad.

The company said that if the project is successful, it would be a first step toward the creation of a natural gas industrial center on Sucre's Paria Peninsula that would enable the development of reserves in Venezuela's easternmost region.

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