Petrobras and CNPC Define Business Model For COMPERJ, Marlim Partnership

(Hydrocarbon Engineering, Alex Hithersay, 18.Oct.2018) — Petrobras has announced that it has signed an integrated project business model agreement (IPBMA) with China National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Co. (CNODC), a subsidiary of CNPC, advancing towards their strategic partnership, as disclosed to the market on July 4, 2018.

The IPBMA details the steps of a feasibility study to evaluate COMPERJ refinery’s current technical status, its investment case and the remaining scope to conclude the refinery and the business valuation. A joint team composed by CNPC and Petrobras specialists and external consultants will conduct the studies.

Once the full benefits and costs of this project are quantified, the next step is to create a joint venture (JV) between Petrobras (80%) and CNPC (20%) to conclude and operate the refinery.

The integrated project also includes 20% participation of CNPC in Marlim cluster, which is composed by Marlim, Voador, Marlim Sul and Marlim Leste fields. Petrobras will have 80% and will keep the operatorship of all these fields.

Marlim crude oil production perfectly fits the design crude slate to be processed in COMPERJ refinery, a high conversion heavy oil refinery.

The JV’s effective implementation depends on the successful results of COMPERJ feasibility study with the respective investment decision by the parties, as well as the negotiation of final agreements.

***

#LatAmNRG

Aker Solutions Wins Subsea Order for Libra’s Mero Field Offshore Brazil

(Aker Solutions, 5.Oct.2018) — Aker Solutions has signed a contract with Petrobras to provide a subsea production system and related services for the Mero 1 project within the Mero field development, one of the largest oil discoveries in Brazil’s pre-salt area.

The subsea production system will consist of 12 vertical subsea trees designed for Brazil’s pre-salt, four subsea distribution units, three topside master control stations for the Mero 1 Guanabara FPSO and spare parts. The order also includes installation and commissioning support services.

“We’re pleased to become a key supplier to Petrobras and its partners for the first full production project of this major development,” said Luis Araujo, chief executive officer of Aker Solutions. “We have an extensive local workforce and over 40 years’ experience in Brazil and look forward to continuing to play an important role in the development of the country’s pre-salt resources,” he added.

Aker Solutions’ subsea manufacturing facility in São José dos Pinhais and its subsea services base in Rio das Ostras will carry out the work.

The work has already started and deliveries are scheduled for 2020. Installations are scheduled between 2020 and 2023.

The subsea production system will be hooked up to the first full-scale floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel for Mero, known as the Guanabara FPSO. The FPSO is scheduled to come on stream in 2021 and will have capacity to process up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day and 12 million cubic meters of gas a day.

The ultra-deepwater Mero field is located in the northwestern area of the original Libra block, which is about 180 kilometers south of Rio de Janeiro. First oil was produced in November last year.

Petrobras is the operator of the consortium developing the Libra area. Shell, Total, CNPC and CNOOC Limited are partners. Pre-Sal Petróleo S.A (PPSA) manages the Production Sharing Contract.

The companies are not disclosing the value of the contract. The order will be booked in the third quarter of 2018.

***

Venezuela Doubles Down on Chinese Money to Reverse Crisis

(AP, 20.Sep.2018) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday that new investments from China will help his country dramatically boost its oil production, doubling down on financing from the Asian nation to turn around its crashing economy.

Already a major economic partner, China has agreed to invest US$5 billion more in Venezuela, Maduro said following a recent trip to Beijing, adding that the money would help it nearly double its oil exports to China.

“We are taking the first steps into a new economic era,” he said. “We are on track to have a new economy, and the agreements with China will strengthen it.”

A once-wealthy oil nation, Venezuela is gripped by a historic crisis deeper than the Great Depression in the United States. Venezuelans struggle to afford scarce food and medicine, many going abroad in search of a better life.

Venezuela’s inflation this year could top one million per cent, economists predict.

After two decades of socialist rule and mismanagement, Venezuela’s oil production of 1.2 million barrels a day is a third of what it was two decades ago before the late President Hugo Chavez launched the socialist revolution.

Maduro says that under the deal, Venezuela will increase production and the daily export of oil to China to one million barrels a day.

However, China is taking a strong role in its new agreements. Over the last decade, China has given Venezuela US$65 billion in loans, cash and investment. Venezuela owes more than US$20 billion.

FINALISING OIL PLANS

The head of the National Petroleum Corporation of China will soon travel to Venezuela to finalise plans on increasing oil exports.

Russ Dallen, a Miami-based partner at brokerage Caracas Capital Markets, said the influx of money appears to be investments China will control.

“The Chinese are reluctant to throw good money after bad,” Dallen said. “They do want to get paid back. The only way they can get paid back is to get Venezuela’s production back up.”

Venezuela also agreed to sell 9.9 per cent of shares of the joint venture Sinovensa, giving a Chinese oil company a 49 per cent stake. The sale will expand exploitation of gas in Venezuela, the president said.

Maduro also recently launched sweeping economic reforms aimed at rescuing the economy that include a creating new currency, boosting the minimum wage more than 3,000 per cent, and raising taxes.

Economist Asdrubal Oliveros of Caracas-based firm Econalitica said he doubts that Venezuela can reach the aggressive goal to boost oil exports to China to one million barrels a day, given problems faced by the state corporation PDVSA.

“Increased production I see as quite limited,” Oliveros said. “The Chinese companies alone have neither the muscle nor the size to prop up production.”

***

Venezuela Oil Production Continues to Collapse

(Energy Analytics Institute, Jared Yamin, 12.Sep.2018) — The decline is consistent and constant as well as consistently and constantly bad, writes Caracas Capital Market in a research note emailed to clients.

Summary details from the research note follow:

OPEC released the production counts for its member states today and while overall OPEC production was up 278,000 barrels per day (bpd) during the month, Venezuela’s production continued to collapse.

According to OPEC’s August calculations, Venezuela production fell another 36,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.235 million bpd. (Venezuela production actually fell 43,000 bpd from the original OPEC July count of 1.278, but OPEC revises their numbers as new data comes in later in the month and moved Venezuela’s July production count down to 1.272 million bpd from the original 1.278 bpd), according to the research note.

“The decline is consistent and constant.”

OPEC calculated that July’s Venezuelan production fall was 42,000 bpd and that June’s fall was 48,000 bpd. In May, Venezuela production fell 43,000; in April, -42,000 bpd; in March, -55,000 bpd; in February -52,000 bpd; in January, -47,000 bpd. Consistently and constantly bad.

In the one year period from August 2017 — when PDVSA was producing 1.918 million bpd — Venezuela has lost 683,000 bpd of production. At the current year average price, that is lost income of $47 million a day and $17.5 billion in a year.

Making this situation worse is that Venezuela’s current 1.235 million bpd production is just a shade more than a third of what the country was producing 20 years ago before Chavez came to power. Hundreds of billions of dollars lost through communism, corruption and incompetence in a country that can ill afford it.

“By the way, we are seeing just one example of how that corruption works in a case playing out before the U.S. Federal District Court in Miami that sucked $1.2 billion from PDVSA in what I label a ‘perpetual money machine for bad guys’ in today’s Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, writes Caracas Capital Markets Managing Partner Russ Dallen. “The cast of characters reaches all the way to the top and includes the Derwick boys (especially Francisco Convit), the Boligarch Raul Gorrin (who bought Globovision), the Maduro family (especially the stepsons ‘los chamos’ but also mentions mother Celia Flores and Nicholas Maduro), and a Swiss banker who has copped a deal to tell all (but still had to put up a $5 million bond yesterday).”

Drilling Rigs Fall

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s drilling rig count dropped by one in August, continues the Caracas Capital Market report.

Baker Hughes reports that the number of active drills operating in Venezuela fell to 27 last month, after popping up 2 in July off June’s thirty year low of 26. One of the two drills that was added in July was drilling for gas – the first in over a year. It was still deployed in August.

Having failed to capitalize on its natural gas (much less build the Mariscal Sucre LNG plant) for decades, Venezuela signed a deal last week to link into an already existing gas pipeline at a Shell platform in bordering Trinidad waters and through that pipeline pump gas to Trinidad’s Atlantic LNG plant where it will be converted into LNG for export.

Long time readers will also recall that Rosneft was given a 30 year totally wide-open lease on a gas field in that area last year.

Maduro Goes to China

Finally, as we predicted in our “China Promises Venezuela More Money” Report yesterday and correctly forecast in a Report and Wall Street Journal column in July, Venezuela seems to be making headway in getting help from the Chinese, writes Dallen.

“No one else seems to have been able to accurately uncover and read these Chinese tea leaves, so I am especially proud of our Caracas Capital team. We continue to knock the ball out of the park for our clients,” writes Dallen.

Maduro has just announced that he is going to China to sign some big new deals.

Minister of Oil and PDVSA head Manuel Quevedo is also in Beijing meeting with CNPC and is offering to expand natural gas agreements as well. Yesterday, Venezuela’s oil ministry released a statement touting that the Sinovensa joint venture had increased oil production from 70,000 bpd to 110,000 bpd.

Aside from oil, gas and drilling, we are anticipating some other upcoming ventures in gold mining, coltan and diamond mining, concludes the Caracas Capital Market note.

***

Petrobras Targets China with New Crude Oil

(Reuters, Florence Tan and Alexandra Alper, 27.Jul.2018) – Brazil’s state-controlled energy company Petrobras plans to push more crude oil to top importer China by marketing a new medium-sweet grade that could be shipped from October, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Petrobras expects to start pumping pre-salt oil from new platforms in the fourth quarter that would add to output from Latin America’s biggest producer and lift its exports.

The new supply could enlarge Brazil’s market share in China as buyers there cut oil imports from the United States following Beijing’s announcement it would impose tariffs on U.S. crude in retaliation against similar moves by Washington.

“Petrobras’ oil export curve is increasing and China is currently the company’s main market,” a Petrobras spokesman said in an e-mail.

“With (Chinese) refineries’ growing interest in buying oil directly from producers … Petrobras will grow its presence with these refiners.”

Petrobras started production in April at its wholly-owned Buzios pre-salt field in the Santos basin from platform P-74, located about 200 km off the Rio de Janeiro coast in water depths of 2,000 metres, according to the company’s website.

Two more platforms, P-75 and P-76, are to come online in the fourth quarter. Total Buzios output is expected to grow to 750,000 bpd by 2021, once an additional four platforms come online, the company said.

Buzios crude has API gravity of 28.4 degrees and contains about 0.31 percent sulphur, similar in quality to Brazil’s Lula crude, one of the most popular oils in China, the company said.

The new supply could help lift Petrobras’ crude oil exports, which dropped 53.8 percent in June from a year ago to 696,000 barrels per day (2.86 million tonnes) as the company hiked its refinery output.

Petrobras’ overall production in June stood at 2.03 million bpd, down 1.5 percent from May.

Brazil’s oil liquids output, including biofuels, is expected to rise by 200,000 bpd to 3.5 million bpd in 2019, after holding steady in 2018, according to consultancy Energy Aspects.

CHINA RISING

China’s demand for low-sulphur crude, such as oil from Angola and Brazil, jumped over the past two years after its independent refiners, also known as teapots, were allowed to import crude.

That has moved Brazil up two notches since 2017 to fifth on China’s supplier list, with 657,000 bpd in the first quarter this year, according to data from China customs.

The teapots’ oil imports from Brazil more than doubled in the first half of 2018 to 350,000 bpd compared with the same period a year ago, according to Beijing consultancy SIA Energy.

More than half of Brazil’s shipments to China went through ports in Shandong province, home to most of China’s independent refiners, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon data.

Petrobras also supplied the first crude cargo to Chinese chemical producer Hengli Group for the start-up of its new refinery in northeast China in the fourth quarter of this year. New Brazilian crude Mero was also delivered to Shandong in June.

Petrobras has expanded its trading team in Singapore to step up marketing efforts in China, the two sources familiar with the matter said. The company has appointed a business development person from within the company and hired a crude trader from a Chinese refiner who will join in September, the sources said.

“In order to improve market share in China, and considering the entry of the teapots in the international market, Petrobras considers that it is necessary to have a professional fluent in Mandarin for the specific development of this market,” the company said, without confirming the new hire.

Asia’s largest refiner Sinopec bought a third of China’s Brazilian oil imports in the first half of 2018, up 13 percent from a year ago, SIA Energy analyst Seng Yick Tee said.

“Sinopec and independents have the appetite for additional crude imports from Brazil, and the potential tariffs on U.S. crude is one of the reasons,” Tee said.

Trade flow data on Eikon, however, shows Brazilian exports to Shandong look set to drop in the third quarter – before the additional Buzios platforms start up – as poor margins and tighter credit have forced teapots to cut runs.

The tough environment is expected to push independents to seek more competitive oil supplies, Tee said.

Other sellers of Brazilian crude include Royal Dutch Shell and Equinor. State-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and CNOOC Ltd also have equity stakes in Brazilian oilfields.

***

Petrobras, CNPC to Finish Rio Refinery

(Efe, 4.Jul.2018) – Brazilian state oil company Petrobras and China’s state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation signed a letter of intent to conclude construction of a refinery in Rio de Janeiro, the South American company said.

Work on the refinery, known as the Rio de Janeiro Petrochemical Complex (Comperj), has been stalled since 2015 due to the sprawling Car Wash probe, initially focused on a massive bribes-for-inflated contracts scandal centered on Petrobras

***

PDVSA Completes First Ship-to-Ship Transfer

(Kallanish Energy, 11.Jun.2018) -- Venezuela’s PDVSA has reportedly completed its first ship-to-ship (STS) transfer last week, in a move to tackle the severe bottleneck of tankers around its main crude ports.

Reuters reported the inaugural operation was with the Suezmax tanker Sonagol Kalandula for a Thai company’s refinery in Kemaman, Malaysia. The cargo, owned by Tipco Asphalt, is believed to be Venezuelan Boscan heavy crude. The oil tanker had been waiting to load since February.

Shipping data tracked by Kallanish Energy on Friday afternoon showed 13 oil tankers were anchored at one of Venezuela’s main ports, Jose. Reuters estimated 40 tankers were waiting in Venezuelan waters to load crude and refined products for exports.

The delays at the ports have mounted since May, when ConocoPhillips attempted to seize PDVSA’s assets in the Caribbean Ocean. To prevent this, PDVSA stopped using its facilities in the Caribbean islands for storing and loading export cargoes.

To alleviate the congestion, PDVSA is reportedly telling buyers they either accept partial supplies under the STS's new terms or the company will declare force majeure in June. It’s said to have told customers it doesn’t have crude available to fulfill its contractual obligations.

Customers waiting for cargoes include the U.S.’s Chevron and Valero Energy, India’s Nayara Energy and China’s CNPC and PetroChina. The backlog at the ports is estimated at 24 million barrels.

The sea-transfer is expected to increase the purchase cost by $1 per barrel and it’s not clear who will foot the bill – PDVSA or the buyers.
***

Repsol Starts Gas Production at the Sagari Field in Peru

(Repsol, 27.Dec.2017) – Repsol has begun gas production from the Sagari field, located in block 57 in the Cusco region of Peru, reinforcing the company´s gas output drive in its reserves development strategy.

The start of production at Sagari will lead to a 25% increase in the block’s total output. Starting in January 2018, it will produce 5.6 million cubic meters per day: approximately one fourth of Peru’s total gas demand.

The Sagari field was discovered in 2012. Repsol holds a 53.84% share and operates the field, partnered by CPNC of China with the remaining 46.16% stake.

Block 57 is located to the east of the Andes mountain range, in one of the most prolific gas production areas of Peru. The Repsol-operated Kinteroni field is also located nearby, and has been in production since 2014.

Repsol has been present in the Peruvian market for two decades, and has become a leader in the local energy sector with involvement throughout the entire value chain.

Repsol is one of the largest energy operators in Peru, holding mineral rights to four mineral blocks, of which three are in production. It also operates the Pampilla (the country’s primary petroleum refinery), has a network of more than 480 service stations and participates in the lubricant, aviation fuel and asphalt markets, among others.
***

New Libra Well Confirms Extension of Petrobras Oil Find

(Petrobras, 15.Jun.2016) – The Libra Consortium has concluded the drilling and evaluation of the seventh well in the block, located in the pre-salt of the Santos Basin. The well found the thickest oil net pay column ever encountered in Libra, reaching 410 meters. This column overcomes the last found (301 meters), announced in March this year.

The new well, located in the northwest portion of the block and 180 kilometers off the Rio de Janeiro state coast, confirmed the discovery of good quality oil (27-degree API) in reservoirs with excellent productivity.

The well, named 3-BRSA-1339A-RJS (3-RJS-742A) and informally known as NW2, is located 10.3 kilometers south of the discovery well 2-ANP-2A-RJS. This drilling is part of the Discovery Evaluation Plan of the 2-ANP-2A-RJS, approved by the National Oil, Natural Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANP), on February 26, 2016.

To date, seven wells have been drilled in Libra (six by the Consortium) and the eighth well (3RJS-743-A), also in the northwest area of the block, is being drilled. The area of Libra was the first award under the production sharing regime.

The Libra Consortium is composed of Petrobras (operator, with 40 percent WI), Shell (20 percent WI), Total (20%), CNPC (10 percent WI) and CNOOC (10 percent WI), and the Production Sharing Contract manager is Pré-Sal Petróleo S.A. (PPSA).

***

Petrobras Libra Consortium 2nd Extension Well

(Petrobras, 24.Mar.2015) – The Libra consortium has finished drilling extension well 3-BRSA-1267-RJS/3-BRSA-1267A-RJS (3-RJS-735/735A). The drilling results confirmed the presence of a hydrocarbon column approximately 200 meters deep in reservoirs with good permeability and porosity characteristics.

Informally known as C1, the well is located in the central part of the Libra block, in Santos Basin, around 220 km offshore from the city of Rio de Janeiro.

The final depth reached was 5,780 m, including a water depth of 2,160 m. This is the second well successfully drilled by the Libra consortium, and is 18 km from the first well, called 3-RJS-731.

The hydrocarbon and CO2 bearing intervals were calculated through electrical profiles and fluid samples, which are being characterized through laboratory analysis.

The consortium will continue with the exploration plan by drilling new wells in order to evaluate the Libra area, which covers around 1,550 km2.

The Libra consortium is composed of Petrobras (Operator, 40% WI), Shell (20% WI), Total (20% WI), CNPC (10% WI) and CNOOC (10% WI), as well as Brazilian state-owned company Pré-Sal Petróleo S.A. (PPSA), which is the contract manager.

***

Rafael Ramirez Speech in Caracas

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 7.Oct.2013) – PDVSA President Rafael Ramirez spoke with journalist in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela.

What follows are excerpts from the discussion.

Rafael Ramirez regarding shipments to China:

Ramirez: We are currently exporting 640,000 b/d to China and 430,000 b/d to India.

We are supplying oil to China but we are arriving to a point that we need to build new refineries in the country so that they can process our heavy oil. That is why we are working with CNPC on a refinery project in Jieyang. In contrast, India has installed refining capacity, so India is another natural market for our heavy oil.

Regarding Lukoil pulling out of Carababo project in the Faja:

Ramirez: The Russian companies are looking for one primary company and not so many small companies in Venezuela. As a result, Rosneft has been looking to increase its participation in projects.

The situation regarding Lukoil and Rosneft in the Carabobo project is between Russians. We have given Rosneft authorization to move forward with the assumption of Lukoil’s stake and we do not have a problem with this.

***

Rafael Ramirez Speech in Puerto La Cruz

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 4.Oct.2013) – Venezuela’s Oil Minister President Rafael Ramirez spoke with journalist in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela.

What follows are excerpts from the discussion.

Rafael Ramirez on the economic sector:

Ramirez: We have bonds that we are using to bring in food stuffs to guarantee supply to the Venezuelan people.

We will not use our dollars to create a parallel market. However, there are actors that are misusing these dollars to feed the speculative market.

We have to neutralize the elements that are conspiring against our economy in the parallel market that are creating distortions in Venezuela and of course affecting the people.

We will use our existing $600 million bonds to buy foodstuffs from Colombia. We will conduct whatever operation that is necessary to reestablish equilibrium in the area (of food distribution).

There are people in the private sector that have all the responsibility for everything that is happening to the Venezuelan economy. We will not use our dollars to create a parallel market, it would be a foolish move, right?

However, there are actors that are directing the use of the dollars that PDVSA is generating to supply this speculative sector. This is something that cannot be done by a maid or a student but economic actors that control large bolivar volumes and that continue to attack our economy. The actors working against the economy are different from those in the government.

On the petroleum sector:

Ramirez: We still need to finish work on the ICO pipeline system which will allow us to carry all of our gas from Eastern Venezuelan to Western Venezuela. The Northern Monagas region has become a great gas producer with 400 MMcf/d of gas.

The Faja did not have infrastructure to transport gas since the old associations said the Faja contained bitumen. Now that we are finding sufficient gas in the Faja coupled with gas from offshore, we will have sufficient gas to cover domestic demand as well as supply the Colombian market.

On gasoline/component imports from the U.S.:

Ramirez: We continue to import components to produce gasoline. It is a complex situation that we continue to evaluate.

We have taken control of the JV we had with Eni and we expanding the JV to produce the MTBE that we need. We continue to move forward with ethanol projects with the goal to mix 10% ethanol with our gasoline.

The Venezuelan driver consumes primarily 95 octane gasoline since the price between 95 and 91 octanes is the same, and under the perception that 95 octane is better for the automobiles.

On the Faja; companies leaving the Faja:

Ramirez: OPIC and PetroCanada were never in the Faja. Lukoil’s decision to leave Junin 6 was taken by the Russian consortium. It is a problem between the Russians. Rosneft President Igor Sechin has said his company wants to have a controlling or operating company in the consortium. We think it is a good decision since we would have one principal Russian voice in the JV.

PDVSA has to have a majority/controlling stake in the Faja projects because the transnational companies have their international strategies while PDVSA has a national strategy.

We have different options/offers to explore regarding Petronas’ 11% stake in Carabobo 1.

We are producing 3 MMb/d and working hard to increase production capacity.

The internal market in Venezuela is consuming 700 Mb/d, up due to increased demand for diesel. Venezuela is exporting 2.4 MMb/d, we want to send more gas to our electric sector which will allow them to switch from diesel to gas.

We plan to export at least 150 MMcf/d of gas to Colombia in July/June of 2014.

We are looking for alternatives so that early production materializes. Early production should approach 50,000 b/d from seven projects in 2013.

Junin 1: Sinopec agreement signed and companies working to constitute the JV and achieve production of 200,000 b/d. Junin 10: CNPC has agreed to participate in the JV and in the upgrader expansion with PDVSA. PDVSA has increased production at the project by 15,000 b/d in one year. We plan to expand the existing upgrader.

On the Abreu e Lima refinery project in Brazil:

We are still in discussions with Petrobras regarding the Abreu e Lima refinery project but this is a topic we will not discuss over a microphone. However, we want to be in the project.

***

Journalist Round Table with Rafael Ramirez

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 31.Jul.2013) – PDVSA President Rafael Ramirez held a small round table with journalist in Caracas, Venezuela.

What follows are excerpts from the discussion.

Rafael Ramirez on the petroleum sector and the current government administration under Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro:

Rafael Ramirez: We have firmly established our political strategy related to the oil sector.

We are currently entering a stage of production expansion and will concentrate all of our work and energies on reaching our goals and increasing production capacity in Venezuela.

If we look back, we received the petroleum sector (in late 1999) during a phase of privatization in the downstream, midstream, and upstream sectors, especially PDVSA.

But Venezuela has entered a new expansion stage of petroleum sector policies and PDVSA is entering into the Expansion Phase of the Faja development.

In terms of the sabotage that our oil industry has seen, we continue to feel the effects of these actions and damage mostly in Western Venezuela where we have experienced a drastic drop in production.

After the oil sector strike in 2002-2003, we established our petroleum sector plan. We oversaw the migration of operating contracts (of 33 companies with contracts we saw 31 of the companies migrate to the new contracts without problems, only ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips decided to exit the migration process and eventually exit Venezuela altogether). We also oversaw changes and modifications to laws, fiscal changes such as reestablishing royalties and taxes.

The year 2010 marked the beginning of the new expansion stage for the Venezuelan oil sector. From 2004-2010 we worked on nationalization, migration process to new contracts, and PDVSA regaining control of the oil sector by increasing its participation from an average 49% in JVs to a minimum of 60%. We are now in the stage of increasing the production of oil.

In all, we spent ten years (2000-2010) recuperating PDVSA, under the watch of late-President Hugo Chavez Frias.

Ramirez: We are employing many engineers from public schools here in Venezuela for various jobs, including rig operations.

On the petroleum sector expansion process:

Ramirez: In 2013, we have been concentrating our efforts on recuperating production capacity of 4 MMb/d by year end 2014 and 6 MMb/d by year end 2019 (of which 4 MMb/d will come from the Faja). For this to happen, it is fundamental that we move two elements: development of the Faja and development of an industrial base. [See also information on industrial meetings with private sectors across the country].

We need to construct a production capacity of 3 MMb/d in the Faja. This runs parallel with work we have been conducting in the Faja related to the industrial meetings with the private sector.

The government is working hard with the private sector for the second phase of the Faja development. Hence the Six National Productive Meetings we had to gauge interest in the private sector to participate in projects with the government and PDVSA.

We are working with private (transnationals) companies as well as the Venezuelan Hydrocarbon Association or AVHI but I must reiterate: “The companies that do not want to help PDVSA increase its production capacity can simply leave the country.”

We have received positive feedback from CNPC and Chevron and we are awaiting response from other companies such as Repsol, among others, in terms of new financing deals related to petroleum sector projects.

We plan to create investment funds for all the Faja JVs whereby “the Venezuelan citizens” will participate.

The government will create four investment districts in the Faja. In Sep.2013 the government will announce plans and create development schemes, special fiscal schemes for the four districts that are located in each of the four Faja blocks.

Ciudad Bolivar will be the main city that Venezuela will use for the development of the Faja since it already has an airport and universities.

Development of the Faja will be the most important prospect for Venezuela in this Century.

The government is working with private companies regarding funding and the use of money solely to increase production.

The government realizes that a number of private companies that have converted to JVs have had problems increasing production (operating costs around $12/bbl, including G&A). Regardless, the government wants the companies to maintain operations in Venezuela and increase production. However, private companies that cannot maintain these operating costs should be operated by PDVSA. We are looking to drastically reduce overhead costs. Again, we don’t want small operators to leave, but we want them to merge their operations to reduce overhead so that they can focus on increasing production.

We are starting a push for reduction of costs and more efficiency in our production. In the Western region of the country we have had a lot of success implementing this strategy and we have stopped the production declines in the region.

The government wants companies in Zulia in Falcon state to be more efficient and is trying to help them reduce their overhead.

On the Faja reservoir spanning into Colombia:

Ramirez: The Faja does not extend to Colombia, only to Guarico state in Venezuela in its most western extension. There are individuals in Colombia that are trying to convince investors that Colombia shares the same geology as Venezuela, which is not true. Pacific Rubiales has sold a lot of stock selling this story to investors. The Faja formation in Venezuela is different than the one in Colombia.

On the Chinese Fund and other financing issues:

Ramirez: Close to 94% of foreign income that Venezuela generates comes from the petroleum sector.

Venezuela will sign a $5 bln funding (Fondo Chino or Chinese Fund) in Sep.2013 in the presence of President Nicolas Maduro in China.

The amount of barrels that are sent to China to repay loans varies each month due to changes in oil prices. When oil prices are high, the barrels that need to be sent to China decline, while any excesses are returned to PDVSA.

We sold $21.9 bln to the Venezuelan Central Bank or BCV during 2001-Jun.2013. In 2013, we plan to sell $47 bln to the BCV.

In 2012, PDVSA paid down debt by about $4 bln, this figure stood at $34.4 bln at YE:12

Money on our Balance Sheet as of June 30, 2013 ($12 bln) includes investments (commercial credit) from Rosneft, CNPC, Gazprom, Chevron. Money from new JVs could be used in the SICAD weekly auctions when the companies need access to Bolivars. This will also reduce the companies’ needs to participate in illegal activities to obtain Bolivars.

PDVSA will not issue more debt in USA dollars but instead in Bolivars as it is easier to pay back this debt in the local market than in dollars.

On Venezuelan windfall tax scheme:

Ramirez: The following table (See Table 1) lays out Venezuela’s windfall tax scheme.

Table 1: Venezuela windfall tax payment to Fonden

Price of oil ——- Payment % to FONDEN

$80/bbl ——— 20%

$80-$100/bbl —- 80% of the difference

$100-$110/bbl —- 90% of the difference

>$110/bbl ——– 95% of the difference

Source: PDVSA

FONDEN is a national development fund which is similar to a fund that is run by the Norwegians. “I don’t see anybody criticizing the Norwegians,” but this government is overly criticized.

On oil exports, shale developments worldwide and other issues:

Ramirez: PDVSA is an operational company. We are constantly balancing things out. We have debts but we have revenues. We have financing but we have capitalization.

Increases in interest rates under the Petrocaribe initiative were not called for by PDVSA. The conditions remain unchanged.

Venezuelan oil exports are down due to increased use of diesel in the domestic market to generate electricity.

Shale oil developments do not affect Venezuela. We are not worried about shale oil developments going on worldwide. However, most of the shale resources in Venezuela are located in Maracaibo Lake area where they amount to about 13,000-19,000 MMbbls.

We are evaluating to what depths we have shale in the Urdaneta field. Venezuela has shale resources in Lake Maracaibo which are four times as much as those claimed by Colombia. We need to drive to deeper horizons where there are larger concentrations of oil. Although we have shale resources in Falcon state we will continue to look for convention oil and gas. There is tremendous liquids potential offshore Falcon state.

A $100/bbl oil price does not permit the development of shale oil. So we need a good oil price and $100/bbl is a good price, not just for Venezuela.

Oil price sensitivity: For each $1/bbl decline/rise in oil prices, Venezuela losses/gains $700 mln per year in revenues.

As a result of the Perla 3x offshore gas discovery which also unveiled large condensate potential, we have decided to drill offshore Falcon state in search of additional condensate potential.

Oil production at the Sinovensa JV is around 140,000 b/d but we expect this production to reach 165,300 b/d by year end 2013 and ultimately 330,000 b/d.

During 1992-1999, Venezuela’s 4th Republic reported fiscal revenues of just $23.5 bln, while the Revolutionary Government (under former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and now President Nicolas Maduro) has reported fiscal revenues of $448.8 bln during 2000-Aug.2013 (as of 1.Aug.2013), of which $310.3 bln came from changes in new laws (i.e. increasing taxes and royalties and increasing PDVSA’s participation in oil projects).

Venezuela’s oil production declines on average 700,000 b/d a year or around 20-25% per year. However, Venezuela adds an average 700,000 b/d of production to make up for the short fall and maintain production around 3,000 Mb/d.

In the Faja the production declines are not as pronounced since it is a newly developed area, but in Zulia state in Lake Maracaibo the declines are more pronounced.

On gasoline issues:

Ramirez: The government is working to install an automatic chip system and even GPS systems in Tachira state as there are reported cases of cars in Colombia with Venezuelan license plates that are crossing the Colombian/Venezuelan border each day to buy cheap gasoline in Venezuela to later sell it in Colombia.

The government is looking to implement the export of Venezuelan gasoline to Colombia to reduce the demand for gasoline in Colombia.

On refineries:

Ramirez: El Palito refinery will receive heavy oil from the Faja in the future while the Puerto la Cruz refinery will also process oil from the Faja. We will continue to use light oils for mixtures or for export.

Changes/upgrades at existing refineries are being done to increase the heavy oil processing capacity.

Plans to build three new refineries in Venezuela have not changed.

The government has proposed that companies convert upgraders into refineries or upgrade the oils to 42 degrees API so that it can be exported or mixed with other oils and thus avoiding potential bottlenecks in Venezuela.

Our agreements with Eni are to build a refinery and not an upgrader. The majority of the finished products from this refinery will be diesel with specifications established for European markets. The 300,000 b/d capacity refinery with Eni is a move by the Italian company to pay lower taxes.

On Ecuador:

Ramirez: PDVSA has reduced its interest in Ecuador’s Pacific Coast Refinery to 19% from 49% to allow entrance of CNPC with a 30% interest. Petroecuador will continue to hold a 51% interest in the project. Nonetheless, PDVSA still plans to send 100,000 b/d to the refinery for processing.

On the USA and potential divestment of CITGO refineries:

Ramirez: The US market has a large processing capacity for heavy oils. In regards to divesting of our interest in CITGO; it is not viable to sell individual refineries in the USA. It would only be interesting if they (the CITGO refineries) could be sold as a packaged deal.

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