January 25, 2010
NEW YORK — Chevron Corp., Total SA and Repsol SA are among the big oil companies expected to take part in Venezuela’s first oil field auction since President Hugo Chavez took office in 1998.
[efoods]Bidding is scheduled for Thursday for the Carabobo projects. Registration ended this past week. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said at least two consortia completed the formal sign-up process for the auction, according to reports.
The country’s oil-rich Carabobo area in north-central Venezuela boasts huge petroleum reserves of an estimated 15 billion barrels, but it’s a heavy grade of crude – thicker, with a higher percentage of impurities such as sulfur and more difficult to refine than the lighter grades more commonly used around the world.
That leaves Chavez in the position of turning to expertise from foreign oil companies to help extract and refine the crude from the Orinoco region, which includes Carabobo, into usable fuel.