Cash-strapped Venezuela offers India’s ONGC oil stake: sources

NEW DELHI/CARACAS: Cash-hungry Venezuela has offered Indian oil company ONGC Videsh an increased stake in an oil field, according to two sources close to the proposal, as the country seeks to shore up its bruised energy industry and strengthen ties with New Delhi.

State oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) has proposed selling a 9 percent stake in the San Cristobal field to ONGC Videsh (OVL), a subsidiary of India’s state-owned top explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp , the sources said this week.

ONGC Videsh already holds a 40 percent stake in the field, which produces around 22,000-23,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil. While the amount of the sale would be relatively modest, according to analysts, any extra income would be welcome for PDVSA.

Venezuela, struggling under triple-digit inflation and Soviet-style product shortages as its socialist economy unravels, has been hit hard by the falling price of oil, its economic lifeline.

The OPEC nation’s oil output has slipped and PDVSA is struggling to maintain investment in its oilfields, which hold the world’s largest crude reserves.

The state company already offered Russian oil major Rosneft a stake in a joint venture in an extra-heavy crude project in the Orinoco Belt, sources told Reuters in March.

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