Venezuela's state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) announced it had set up a joint venture with Argentinean, Portuguese, US and Japanese firms to tap offshore natural gas fields.
The venture will develop an estimated 28.8 trillion cubic feet of known natural gas reserves in the off-shore Deltana platform and Paria Gulf, with marketing plans targeted to begin in 2014.
The 19.65 billion dollar project includes building two trains, or production units, for liquefied natural gas (LNG), each with a projected annual yield of 4.7 million tonnes, as well as offshore extraction and pumping facilities.
The mixed-capital joint venture brings together Venezuela's PDVSA, Portugal's Galp Energia, US Chevron and Global Technology Services, Argentina's Energia Argentina and Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsui and Itochu Corporation.
PDVSA will have a 60 percent stake in the joint venture, the company said in a statement.
"We have all the companies' commitment to maintain the project, to make investments for the development of basic engineering, that we hope will be completed in 2009, for a total of 200 million dollars," said Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez in the statement.
PDVSA vice president for exploration and production Eulogio del Pino said the initiative shows the "trust" placed in Venezuela, adding that it will "supply gas throughout the Caribbean, South America and premium markets in Europe and Southeast Asia."
The joint venture will be tasked with designing, building and operating the LNG trains, as well as the gas pipelines that will feed factories in the industrial complex Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho, at Guira, in the northeastern state of Sucre.
The project is part of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's strategy called the "Great National Gas Revolution" that aims to boost the country's natural gas production from 6.3 billion cubic feet per day in 2007, to 11.5 billion by 2012, the statement said.