Total and Statoil have signed a farm-in agreement giving Total a 49% stake in block 4 of Venezuela's Plataforma Deltana natural gas area. Statoil was awarded an exploration and production contract for block 4 in February 2003. The block covers 1,433 sq km of the Plataforma Deltana area off the east coast of Venezuela in water depths of 200-800 m.
The amount that Total will pay for the stake was not disclosed. Statoil retains 51% of the concession and will remain as the operator. Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA has an option to back-in up to a 35% interest of the project if it is declared commercially feasible.
Statoil had planned to invest around $43 million this year developing the block. Total will now assume some of that investment. The minimum exploratory campaign for block 4 requires the drilling of three wells in four years. The first well, Ballena-1X, was spudded on Jan. 1.
Statoil, Total, and PDVSA are already partners in Sincor, a project to upgrade extra-heavy crude from the Orinoco belt in southern Venezuela.