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Caracas — Oil fields services company Schlumberger Tuesday continued to suspend work at four of six drilling platforms it operates in Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela, a union official said.

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Operations on platforms 102, 110, 111 and 112 in Lake Maracaibo were stopped because of the lack of payment by [Venezuelan state-owned] PDVSA, said the Lagunillas union official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Only platforms 101 and 102 are operating.

Schlumberger did not return a call for comment.

On June 13, Schlumberger said it had reached an agreement with PDVSA to keep six drilling platforms operating.

Article Continues below...

Schlumberger's operations vice president for Venezuela, Roy Ayllon, did not disclose details of the company's new agreement with PDVSA, but said in a PDVSA statement that payment in the national currency bolivar was allowed.

Although PDVSA has announced payment agreements on some debts owed to drilling companies that control 52% of the 375 platforms in Venezuela, problems continue.

All the down time at the drill platforms is affecting production, according to a PDVSA analysis of company's own oil production and at its mixed ventures with foreign partners.

One of the principal factors in the drop in oil production has been the non-productive time at the platforms, the increase in inefficiency and the decline of operating reliability of infrastructure due to obsolescence and deferred maintenance, the analysis, released earlier this month, found.

According to the analysis, the level of inefficiency of drill platforms reached 40.2% in 2015, increasing days and costs per operating well on a national basis, raising it to levels above global standards f 10% and 15%, the report said.

Schlumberger and Halliburton said in April they would reduce operations in Venezuela due to underpayment from PDVSA. In late May, Argentina-based San Antonio Internacional suspended drilling at eight of its 16 rigs in Venezuela due to lack of payment from PDVSA, shortly after Peru-based Petrex had halted drilling at 28 projects.

IPDVSA issued $831 million in debt partly to address payments due to services providers, according to a separate financial report. PDVSA's total debt to contractors is more than $19 billion in 2015.

PDVSA did not respond to a request for comment.

--Mery Mogollon, newsdesk@platts.com

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com