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Monday, March 16, 2009

Russia, Venezuela Agree on Fourth Orinoco Oil Venture

March 15 (Bloomberg by Steven Bodzin) - Russia, the world’s second-biggest oil producer, and Venezuela will form a fourth venture to pump crude in the Orinoco belt, Venezuela’s richest petroleum region. The two nations aim to produce oil in the Junin 6 area, state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA or PDVSA, said late yesterday on its Web site, citing an agreement between Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and Venezuelan Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez. Russia will extend its lead as the country with the most Orinoco projects, adding to three areas being explored by joint ventures involving OAO Lukoil, OAO Gazprom and TNK-BP. Chinese companies are working in two Orinoco areas through joint ventures, while more than a dozen other countries have one venture each, according to PDVSA’s 2007 annual report. Venezuela, with the world’s second-biggest proven reserves of crude, requires PDVSA to hold a majority stake in any oil- industry venture. The statement didn’t say who its partner will be in developing Junin 6. Five Russian oil companies, including the three already working on Orinoco projects as well as OAO Rosneft and OAO Surgutneftegaz, last year formed a company known as Consorcio Ruso to pursue joint ventures in the South American country. The consortium will be the minority partner in the venture and financing will be provided by a joint Russian-Venezuelan bank, Itar Tass reported, without saying where it got the information.

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