Caracas, Venezuela — Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA and US-based Chevron restarted production of extra-heavy crude in the Orinoco Belt at their Petropiar joint venture, which is operating at 72,000 b/d or 38% of capacity, according to a technical report reviewed by S&P Global Platts.
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The report dated July 12 says Petropiar's production had fallen to zero since mid-June due to inventory saturation.
"Petropiar is limited to producing a crude blend of 15-degree API from extra-heavy crude with light crude. There is no infrastructure available to store blended crude nor sufficient diluent to go to a higher volume," the technical report said.
With Petropiar — PDVSA 70% Chevron 30% — in operation and more activity in the San Tome field at Ayacucho block, crude production in the Orinoco Belt rose to 194,000 b/d by July 12.
In June, the average production in the Orinoco Belt was 90,000 b/d, previous technical reports seen by Platts showed.
PDVSA and its foreign partners have joint ventures in the four main blocks into which the Orinoco Belt is divided – Carabobo, Ayacucho, Junin and Boyaca. According to PDVSA's official figures, the four blocks have a maximum potential of producing 1.3 million b/d.
According to the technical reports, on July 12, crude production in the Carabobo block was 32,000 b/d. The Ayacucho block was operating at 141,000 b/d, the Junin block at 11,000 b/d and the Boyaca block at 10,000 b/d.
In the Carabobo block, the Petrolera Sinovensa joint venture, which has a maximum capacity of 105.000 b/d, and the 120,000 b/d Petromonagas JV were producing no crude.
Over in the Junin block, the 202,000 b/d Petrocedeno JV — PDVSA 60%; Total/Equinor 40% — had also stopped producing extra heavy oil.
According to the technical report, the areas of Morichal and Santome, operated by 100% PDVSA, are producing 25,000 b/d and 58,000 b/d, respectively.
Inventories of Merey 16 (an extra-heavy crude blended with light crude) and DCO (extra-heavy crude diluted with naphtha) are full at the onshore tanks in the production fields, in the shipping terminals and floating in tankers due to US sanctions, according to the technical report.
PDVSA could not be reached immediately for comment July 13 and PDVSA's foreign partners are not authorized to comment to the press.