October 03, 2007
Venezuela's National Assembly has approved joint venture contracts between the state oil company and foreign oil companies involved in heavy crude projects in the lucrative Orinoco River basin.
The deals approved Tuesday allow the joint ventures to export crude and other products and require payments from the minority partners -- France's Total SA, Norway's Statoil ASA and Britain's BP PLC -- to get the ''mixed companies'' operating.
As part of the agreements, Total and Statoil will pay $130 million, while Veba Oil & Gas Cerro Negro, a branch of BP, will pay $50 million, Dow Jones Newswires reported. The deal signed with Chevron Corp. doesn't include a monetary contribution clause.
The money will be subtracted from the compensation Venezuela owes these companies for taking majority stakes in the heavy crude upgraders, according to the contracts. The documents make no mention of how much the state oil company, PDVSA, owes its partners.
President Hugo Chávez's government assumed majority control of four heavy oil projects in the eastern Orinoco region in May, while offering foreign partners minority stakes.
The oil fields and heavy crude upgrading plants in the Orinoco were run for more than a decade by six major international oil companies.
Exxon Mobil and Houston-based ConocoPhillips balked at the tougher terms, while Chevron, BP, Total and Statoil agreed to stay on as minority partners in new joint ventures controlled by the state company.