Venezuela chooses Dutch-based firm for Orinoco oil JV

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela has selected a little-known, Dutch-registered company for a new joint venture at the Junin 10 oil block in its Orinoco Belt region, according to a decree published on Thursday.

Stichting Administratiekantoor Inversiones Petroleras Iberoamericanas will have a 40 percent participation in the project, the official government gazette said, without giving any financial details of the deal.

Majority partner and state oil company PDVSA believes the block has the potential to produce 200,000 barrels per day.

PDVSA in the past has rejected offers by Norway’s Statoil and France’s Total SA to partner at Junin 10.

The Oil Ministry decree said President Nicolas Maduro’s council of ministers had approved the new partner and new joint venture, to be called Petrosur.

Such deals would normally be tendered and formerly required approval by Venezuela’s National Assembly.

But since the assembly has been in opposition hands after a December 2015 election, the government has bypassed it.

The pro-Maduro Supreme Court has ruled the government can now choose oil sector partners directly, outraging the opposition, which says the sector is riddled with corruption.

Reuters was unable to contact the Dutch-based company.

The Orinoco Belt in southern Venezuela holds one of the largest oil reserves in the world, mainly extra-heavy crude.

Reporting by Eyanir Chinea; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Jonathan Oatis