Petrotin Moves Ahead With Offshore Exploration Joint Venture

Tuesday, August 07, 2001
Venezuela has given the state-owned Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago, also known as Petrotrin, approval to enter a joint venture to explore an offshore oil field near the maritime border of the South American nation with Trinidad.

Petrotrin reportedly would take a 50 percent interest in the Gulf of Paria East block, a stake that was previously held by Enron Corp., the Number one U.S. natural gas and electricity marketer. No financial details of the deal were immediately available.

A test well at the block produced 3,000 barrels a day of oil in February. Its Venezuelan operator Inelectra had said it would seek a partner with the financial muscle to help develop the field. It was the third oil find from eight oil blocks awarded in Venezuela's 1996 Third Round exploration licensing, when licenses valued at a total of $800 million were granted.

None of the fields has yet produced a commercially viable discovery. Four blocks will be handed back to state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, at the end of this year after disappointing drilling results.

Enron had originally held a 90 percent stake in the Gulf of Paria East field, with Inelectra holding only 10 percent. The U.S. company reduced its stake last year after disappointing well test results.

Inelectra has said it plans to invest $174 million in Venezuela between 2001 and 2003, including activites in gas exploration.

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