December 17, 2017 / 2:38 PM / 8 months ago

Venezuela gives Russia's Rosneft gas field concessions: Rosneft

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Venezuela has awarded licenses to a unit of Russian oil major Rosneft (ROSN.MM) to develop two offshore gas fields, Rosneft said in a statement.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C), head of Russian state oil firm Rosneft Igor Sechin (centre L), and Venezuela's Oil Minister and President of the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA Manuel Quevedo meet in Maiquetia, Venezuela December 16, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro signed the deal during a visit to Venezuela by Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, it said.

Head of Russian state oil firm Rosneft Igor Sechin (standing L) shakes hands with Venezuela's Oil Minister and President of the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA Manuel Quevedo, in front of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, in Maiquetia, Venezuela December 16, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

During the visit, Sechin also discussed Rosneft’s cooperation with Venezuelan state energy company PDVSA, the statement said.

Under the agreement, which is valid for 30 years, wholly-owned Rosneft unit Grupo Rosneft will become the operator of the Patao and Mejillones offshore gas fields, Rosneft said.

Rosneft will have the right to sell all of the fields’ production for export, including in the form of liquefied natural gas, the Rosneft statement said.

It said total estimated reserves at the two fields are 180 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas, and that maximum annual production would be 6.5 bcm.

Venezuela’s unraveling socialist government is increasingly turning to ally Russia for the cash and credit it needs to survive.

PDVSA has debts to state-owned Rosneft of $6 billion, the Russian company estimated in August.

Last month, Russia’s finance ministry agreed to a restructuring of Venezuela’s debt to Moscow, not including PDVSA’s debts to Rosneft.

Reporting by Christian Lowe; Editing by David Evans

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