MOSCOW, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft will pay $1 billion for access to Venezuela’s Carabobo 2 block and may tie-up with a partner to develop the project, Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Saturday.
Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA said on Friday it would partner with Rosneft, Russia’s top oil producer, to work in the Carabobo 2 block in the southern Orinoco extra heavy crude belt.
The parties did not disclose details of the deal, which was clinched during a visit by Russia’s top oil official, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin.
Rosneft will pay an initial $600 million for the right to develop the oil field, with a $400 million payment to follow after the final investment decision is taken, Kommersant quoted sources close to the deal as saying.
The paper also said that PDVSA will have 60 percent of the venture, while Rosneft, with a 40 percent stake, may seek a partner to help it develop the project.
“It may well be our strategic partner — ExxonMobil. This step is seen logical,” the newspaper quoted a Rosneft source as saying.
In August, Exxon Mobil Corp and Rosneft signed an agreement to extract oil and gas from the Russian Arctic, in the most significant U.S.-Russian corporate deal since U.S. President Barack Obama began a push to improve ties.
Rosneft’s press office declined to comment on details of the deal to Kommersant while a source close to Exxon told the newspaper there were no discussions with Rosneft on the possible tie-up in Venezuela.
Rosneft is also one of five Russian companies in a consortium working with PDVSA to develop the Junin block 6 of the Orinoco belt.
Carabobo 2 had been one of the last major ventures to be awarded in the Orinoco, where the South American OPEC member is pinning hopes for future production increases.
Exxon is currently involved in a multibillion-dollar arbitration against PDVSA, seeking compensation for the nationalization of its assets in 2007 when Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez pushed foreign oil companies into minority partnerships at projects in the Orinoco Belt.