February 8, 2012 / 4:10 PM / 8 years ago

Venezuela approves oil JV with Russia's Gazprombank

* Gazprombank to pay Venezuela $404 mln bonus

* Russia has boosted energy ties with Venezuela

CARACAS, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Venezuela has approved the creation of a joint venture between state oil company PDVSA and Gazprombank, a division of Russian energy giant Gazprom, to operate two mature fields in the west of the country.

Gazprom, Russia’s top gas producer, has boosted its presence in the South American OPEC-member country over the last decade as socialist President Hugo Chavez strengthened political ties with Russia.

Venezuela’s legislature approved the creation of the joint venture with a PDVSA subsidiary holding 60 percent and Gazprombank holding 40 percent, according to the official gazette circulating on Wednesday.

The joint venture will have a 25-year license to explore and produce oil and gas in the Bachaquero Tierra and Lagunillas Tierra areas in the western state of Zulia.

Gazprombank agreed to pay Venezuela a bonus of $404.2 million.

Founded in 1990, the company is focused on banking and investment services for the gas industry and is the largest non-state bank in Russia with some 3 million private clients.

Chavez has said Venezuela will boost oil production this year by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) to reach 3.5 million bpd, which would be the largest annual oil output increase in his 13 years of government.

PDVSA has in previous years struggled to reach its production targets, which has led to a decline in its crude exports. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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