Venezuela to begin three-year exploration effort to quantify gas reserves

Jun 01, 2001 02:00 AM

Venezuela will this year begin a $ 230 mm three-year exploration effort to quantify the reserves of natural gas on its marine border with Trinidad after that country got a head start in exploiting them. State oil company PdVSA will drill the first of a total 10 wells in the area, southeast of Trinidad in the Atlantic ocean, in October, officials told.
PdVSA Exploration and Production chief Ludovico Nicklas told the company would spend $ 30 mm this year on exploring the so-called Delta Platform. Nicklas also cited efforts for a treaty with Trinidad to ensure both countries obtained their fair share of the resources.
"It is a highly prospective area and what we are doing is quantifying the reserves," said Nicklas. He estimated that Venezuela's reserves in the Delta Platform would be of a similar order to those on the Trinidadian side, or about 20 tcf, and said some of the deposits appeared from geo-physical data to stretch across the border.

The reserves have been known for decades, but PdVSA had left them in the ground because of their isolated position, 250 km from the nearest likely landfall, and because low domestic gas prices discouraged investment. However, a global boom in demand for gas, combined with Trinidad's accelerated exploitation of the reserves on its side of the border, prompted a change of tack. The reserves form the basis of a giant development proposal for the far east of the oil exporting country, which could including a LNG plant for export, a petrochemical complex and a pipeline hub serving the rest of the country, officials said.
Unlike the gas reserves in the north-western Paria region, where PdVSA has formed a consortium of multinationals in a $ 2.2 bn LNG project, Venezuela is exploring the Delta Platform alone, for now. The so-called Venezuela LNG project, involving ExxonMobil, Shell, PdVSA and Mitsubishi has been stalled pending an examination by the Ministry of Energy and Mines. Government officials have said that Venezuela could decide to offer licenses to private sector investors in the Delta Platform once they have a better idea of their size and options for exploitation.

One option under study by PdVSA is a pipeline running to a hub near Pedernales, at the mouth of the Orinoco river, with one fork leading west to Venezuela's internal gas grid and another running north to the LNG and petrochemical development planned for the Guiria area on Paria peninsular. Trinidad already exports LNG through the Atlantic LNG venture, controlled by BP, BG and Repsol-YPF, which aims to triple its export capacity to 14.4 mm tpy by 2003.

Source: Gulf News Online
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