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Eni and PDVSA launch major heavy-oil projects in Orinoco Belt in Venezuela

Italy-based oil and gas major Eni and PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela), the state-owned oil and gas corporation of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, signed contracts for the creation of two joint ventures (Empresas Mixtas, Mixed Enterprises). The first, PetroJunín, is dedicated to the development of Junín 5 Block, located in the Orinoco Oil Belt some 550 kilometers south east of Caracas. The second, PetroBicentenario, is dedicated to the construction and operation of a refinery in the area of the existing industrial coastal complex of Jose.

Map of Orinoco’s Faja area. Click to enlarge.

PDVSA will own 60% of both JVs, according to the terms of the new hydrocarbon law of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

In January 2010, the US Geological Survey issued a technical announcement that an estimated 513 billion barrels of technically recoverable heavy oil (of more than 1 trillion barrels of heavy oil in place) are in Venezuela’s Orinoco Oil Belt. The area contains one of the world’s largest recoverable oil accumulations, and this assessment was the first to identify how much is technically recoverable (producible using currently available technology and industry practices).

The Junín 5 Block has 35 billion barrels of certified oil in place with recoverable reserves estimated in excess of 2.5 billion barrels (Eni share is more than 1 billion barrels). Daily production for Eni will be close to 100,000 barrels per day at full field development.

The companies plan to achieve an early production phase of 75,000 barrels per day with first oil expected by 2013 and a long term production plateau of 240,000 barrels per day to be reached in 2018. Approximately 1,500 horizontal shallow wells will be needed for the full field development.

The new refinery will have a capacity of 240,000 barrels per day plus the ability to process additional volumes of approximately 110,000 barrels per day of intermediate streams from other PDVSA facilities, which will provide additional value to the project. The refinery will be built in the Jose Industrial Complex, which provides access to export markets and ensures synergies with existing industrial services. The construction of this facility creates value in-country in line with PDVSA’s and Venezuela’s development strategies. Final high quality products will target European and Caribbean markets with an estimated premium above Brent.

Eni will pay a bonus of US$646 million, with US$300 million at the publication of the contracts of incorporation of the Mixed Enterprises and the balance in tranches according to the achievement of milestones of the project. Awarding of major contracts is expected in 2011 for early production and in 2013 for full field development.

In Venezuela, Eni is present in Petrosucre, which operates the offshore Corocoro Field (PDVSA 74%, Eni 26%) with a daily equity production of approximately 10,000 barrels of oil, and is co-operator with a 50% stake in the offshore Cardon IV licence where the giant Perla gas field was discovered in October 2009. Perla has an estimated gas in place in excess of 14 trillion cubic feet of gas (2.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent).

With two world-class projects like Junín and Perla, Eni expects to boost its country net production from the actual 10,000 to more than 180,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2019, with more than 1.5 billion of net reserves.


  • Schenk C.J., Cook, T.A., Charpentier, R.R., Pollastro, R.M., Klett, T.R., Tennyson, M.E., Kirschbaum, M.A., Brownfield, M.E., and Pitman, J.K., 2009, An estimate of recoverable heavy oil resources of the Orinoco Oil Belt, Venezuela: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009–3028, 4 p.

  • Eni in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela



Oh look! More countries, other than the U.S., full speed ahead with Drill Baby Drill!


When oil is (was) impossibly cheap at around $2/barrel, nobody wanted to drill on their door steps. At $80/$100+ a barrel, importing 15 million barrels/day became a major drag on the economy. Something has to be done. Another song will emerge. Either consume less (very possible with more HEV/PHEV/BEV) or produce more locally (drill baby drill everywhere for more local fossil and/or coal, NG, shale gas, tar sands and produce more and more bio-derived fuels etc).

Countries like Venezuela and Canada (and a few fortunate others) can produce crude oil and NG for another century and probably more at current or increased rate.

Others, like USA, UE, China, India and many other countries are not so fortunate and will have to develop replacement fuels. Often, the hard choice between low cost food and increased bio-fuels production may have to be made.

Electrification of most transportation vehicles may become a necessity by 2050 or before. Producing enough electrical energy for 2+ billion e-vehicles should not be a major challenge. The e-power production mix will include Nuclear, Solar, Wind, Hydro and some limited bio-gas for the long term and NG + Coal for mid and short terms. The world will never run short of energy as long as the sun is around.


HD the USA could be energy independent with the political will, that and the Greens getting the Fout that way we have over 1.6 Trillion tons of coal that is accessible with UCG tech, we have 1.3 Trillion barrels of shale oil that Shell and others have demonstrated is economical at >~$55 bbl, have over 120 years of shale gas, and that number does not take into account the GOM and our EEZ's of the OCS plus permafrost AK the size of the hydrate resource is staggering. World wide the hydrate resource is so large that if humans burned it all we could reduce the O2 content of the atmo a few percentage points they are that large.

No NA is fortunate to have HUGE hydrocarbon reserves accessible with todays technology and by today I mean this decade 2000+ the peakist Cassandras never take into account how rapidly tech has improved nor that in mineralogy there is a law that for every doubling in price of ANY mineral you can go to sources one order of magnitude lower in concentration.

Let me put it this way the global average crude oil recovery rate is 21% from any random well string @ $25bbl avg which has been pretty constant till 2005. Now with secondary and tertiary EOR the reconvery rates have hit 70+% in existing wells that have undergone these processes. Why because price tripled and EOR became profitable from 21% to 70% recovery is 2x more oil from the existing wells. Its widely known that of the 11 trillion barrels originally in place on this planet we have got 1.5 ish trillion out at 21%. We have the tech to get at 70% of that 11 trillion now this planet is not going to run out of oil anytime soon, 20 buck oil is history but at ~>75bbl there is another 3 to 5 trillion barrels left of light crude and as pointed out here a couple of trillion of heavy crudes worldwide @50% recovery, the THAI process hits 80% for tarsands and heavy crudes its a advanced EOR technology that is economical in the $70s range. There is another trillion of tarsands which THAI can get 80% all economical at 75-100 a barrel.


TXGeologist, if only my retirement investments had increased at the rate of oil prices. With such an abundant hydrocarbon world, peak oil shouldn't have occurred 40 years ago in the US and now world-wide.

Spreading oil pollution from the life-giving seas to fracted water table pollution for natural gas/tar/etc profits won't work either.


I look at fossil fuel like a savings account, to be saved for our future. Oil and gas companies see it as a present revenue stream. If we cut back on fossil fuel and create more renewable energy resources they will still make money, but we will have more in reserve for later.


SJC has an excellent point. Tractor trailers will need oil for a long time, but EVs should have replaced half of the cars by now.

In addition, there will be the plastics and chemical markets for future oil that's far too costly to burn.


@SJC: I had a macroeconomics course in college where the professor took the view that because technology is constantly improving in the efficient use of oil / gas as well as with the ability to extract it from areas where companies were unable to get it before, that our reserves are essentially unlimited. Pennies for thoughts? Anyone?


@ejj: Reserves are unlimited if the price rises enough. There will be oil in the ground long after renewables reach equilibrium prices and then go lower.

If PV produced electricity prices continue to drop, then at some point gasoline prices will too. At that point we will have less economically recoverable oil, but plenty that is non recoverable. The only question is, when will that happen?


There is seemingly unlimited and limited. Most people feel that oil IS limited but may seem abundant for some time. Right now and going forward it is WHO has it. 3% reserves in the U.S. and 50% in the middle east.

We could look at oil resources as the world's resources, but we know that is not true. Eventually the dollar is worth less and the demand keeps increasing. OPEC has not increased production and is actually putting less on the market than decades ago.


Kelly has a very good point. It may not be very wise to BURN all non-replaceable fossil fuels when sustainable Hydro-Sun-Wind etc energy is available to do the same job.

Oil could be restricted for chemicals and specific uses such as aircraft, ships, large trucks etc.

We already stopped using wood and coal to cook and heat the house, why not do the same for our vehicles?


Coal, oil and gas are called "fossil fuels" because they have been formed from the organic remains of prehistoric plants and animals.Coal is crushed to a fine dust and burnt.Oil and gas can be burnt directly.The steam that has passed through the power station's turbines has to be cooled, to condense it back into water before it can be pumped round again.

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