March 6, 2012 / 9:57 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-PDVSA, Chevron ready $2 bln oil project credit

* Credit to develop Petroboscan project in western Venezuela

* Government pressure on joint ventures to boost output

By Marianna Parraga

CARACAS, March 6 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA and U.S. major Chevron are readying a $2 billion credit to expand oil production at their joint venture Petroboscan, sources close to the operation said on Tuesday.

Since the end of 2010, Venezuela’s energy ministry has been pressuring some 20 joint ventures between PDVSA and foreign energy partners operating in Venezuela to find extra funding to boost output at mature fields.

The socialist administration of President Hugo Chavez threatened to cancel the ventures’ permits if they failed to reach higher goals.

“The conditions for the credit have already been negotiated. The $2 billion will be loaned by Chevron’s headquarters,” said one of the sources, who was not authorized to speak on the record about the deal.

The source said the loan was agreed at a rate of Libor plus 4.5 percent.

Petroboscan, in western Venezuela, now produces 115,000 barrels per day of crude and is 60 percent controlled by PDVSA and 40 percent owned by Chevron.

A lack of investment, especially in the western regions of South America’s biggest crude exporter, has led to falling output at the mature fields since 2009.

Other ventures — which also include projects jointly run by Repsol, BP , Shell and Petrobras — have been under pressure to take out loans to raise production.

The joint ventures suffer from recurrent cashflow difficulties due to the late payment of dividends by PDVSA.

Added to this are budget cuts put in place by the state oil company amid low crude prices in early 2009 and burdensome taxes.

Despite the difficulties, the OPEC nation has an ambitious production goal of 3.5 million bpd this year, up from the 2.9 million bpd last reported by the government.

The China Development Bank approved a $4 billion credit for the Petrosinovensa joint venture, made up of PDVSA and the China National Petroleum Company.

In one of the biggest increases ever planned at the mature oil fields, Petrosinovensa aims to expand production to 330,000 bpd from 105,000 bpd currently.

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