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Petróleos de Venezuela is to invest $ 37 billion in the business. Of that amount, approximately $26 billion is being allocated to exploration and production operations, as contemplated in Petróleos de Venezuela’s 2004-2009 Business Plan, according to Félix Rodríguez, vice-president of the Venezuelan national oil corporation.

Rodríguez said that 3,800 wells are expected to be drilled in the eastern, western and southern regions of the country, where the main crude reservoirs and major exploration areas are located. It is also estimated that an average of 111 rigs per year will be kept in operation. Additionally, more than 5,500 wells will be worked-over and repaired with the aim of maintaining the current production index (available production / production capacity)

On the other hand, the strategic guidelines defined for the exploration area confirm the need to establish new exploration acreage near the main fields already defined by PDVSA. In this direction, studies on the Tomoporo and Franquera areas in the west of the country, as well as on El Tejero and Cotoperí in the east, are due to begin immediately. A seismic exploration campaign will also be carried out in central Venezuela.

Four wells are due to be drilled this year in the promising Tomoporo field; these are but a first step towards a future average production there estimated at 250,000 barrels per day of crude oil.

Félix Rodríguez pointed out that, within the already established production projects, a new boost will be given to both reservoirs under development and mature fields with many years under production. This will take the form of special enhanced recovery projects through the use of high-pressure water and gas injection, outstanding among which are the projects planned for El Furrial, El Carito and El Tejero, in the eastern region.

Regarding the western region, a pressure maintenance program will be developed with the aim of keeping up production levels which correspond with those of «our traditional high-quality reservoirs», mainly those located on Lake Maracaibo’s east coast, in the State of Zulia.

Rodríguez also announced that heavy crude production in the Orinoco Belt would be increased, but that production development in this new stage would be undertaken directly by the Corporation.

Gas: a world power in seven years

PDVSA’s VP emphasized that, over the next seven years, «Venezuela is due to become a world power in the gas business», adding that «we will be facing great challenges ahead».

News in this sense is quite encouraging, and has only just begun. Studies carried out on the Deltana Shelf off the Delta Amacuro coast and Mariscal Sucre in Paria have led to the conclusion that, beginning in 2007, Venezuela can count on an assured supply of natural gas to cover all of the country’s present and future needs. «This is a great starting point», Rodríguez pointed out.

Among the projects which are ready to be launched, as soon as the go-ahead signal is received from the government, are the exploration of the Gulf of Venezuela and the State of Falcon’s northern coastline.

«I can tell you now that this could be a shared effort, together with private capital. We have charted a course, we have a strategy, we have growth with proven reserves, we have the certainty that our Business Plan is totally realistic, and to top it off, we can add to the foregoing the huge reserves lying in the Orinoco Belt».

Félix Rodríguez ended by saying that all of the oil industry’s programs and projects were aligned with the government’s policy of backing operations with adequate social programs, saying «When currently talking about inward-generated national development, there is no better example than the oil industry». This year we are participating in government purchases with more than 350 million bolívars. This has a two-point impact on the Gross Domestic Product, with major repercussions in terms of growth, employment, and the well-being of Venezuela’s population.