CARACAS – Italian oil major ENI plans to invest $7 billion in projects in Venezuela with the aim of boosting its output there to 240,000 barrels per day by 2018, company CEO Paolo Scaroni said.
ENI’s boss spoke at a press conference in Caracas with Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez, who is also head of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA.
Scaroni said the investment plan includes projects with PDVSA-controlled joint ventures Petrojunin and Petrobicentenario to develop crude reserves in the Orinoco Belt of northeastern Venezuela and build a refinery in Anzoategui state to process that output.
The investment program will “allow us to reach 240,000 barrels per day of output by 2018,” he said, noting that an early production phase called for in the plan – originally slated to begin in 2013 – will be pushed up to next year.
According to Scaroni, Petrobicentenario’s refinery will process extra-heavy crude extracted by the Petrojunin upstream unit in the Orinoco Belt into diesel for the European market.
Ramirez said that in the first phase of the investment program ENI will contribute $2 billion in financing to the two joint ventures and PDVSA will provide another $1 billion.
He added that $1.5 billion of the Italian firm’s investment outlay will finance development costs for the Junin 5 heavy oil block’s early production phase, as well as construction of the refinery.
The minister estimated that output in Junin 5’s early production phase would reach 50,000 bpd in 2012 and said the block’s production capacity eventually will climb to 300,000 bpd.
PDVSA’s investment will support those same two projects, while the remaining $500 million from ENI will finance construction of an electricity generation plant to power the offshore Rafael Urdaneta gas project.
Scaroni said that power plant will support development of that “super-giant gas deposit,” whose reserves are estimated at 15 trillion cubic feet.
The companies will maintain high-level contact, Ramirez said, stressing their “very important projects that require extremely significant (joint) investment” of more than $19 billion.
He added that Venezuela is committed to deepening energy ties with Italy and providing the hydrocarbons that oil-consuming, industrialized nation needs for its development.
Ramirez noted that Venezuela has an estimated 187 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves – although that total could reach 400 tcf if other reserves are certified – and 297 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. EFE