The French company Maurel & Prom will invest US $ 400 million in an oil field in Venezuela, a country whose crude production is in a sharp decline, President Nicolás Maduro and industry authorities informed Monday.
“A good agreement has been reached to raise the production of an important field” in the state of Zulia (northwest), Maduro announced through government television.
The socialist leader reiterated the goal of raising by one million barrels Venezuela’s supply in 2019, to 2.5 million barrels per day. Maduro met in the presidential palace of Miraflores with Michel Hochard, CEO of Maurel & Prom, to seal the agreement.
The company will pay US $ 400 million to set up a joint venture with 60% Venezuelan and 40% French capital for PDVSA to operate oil in the southern zone of Lake Maracaibo, rich in hydrocarbon deposits, said Manuel Quevedo, Minister of Petroleum and president of the Venezuelan state.
“We have a great responsibility, but we are confident of being up to the task, We are confident of having support and achieving success in this new company,” said Hochard, according to the translation of an interpreter.
In the middle of an economic collapse, with hyperinflation and shortage of basic foods and medicines, the Venezuelan oil production has plummeted from 3.2 million to 1.13 million barrels per day in the last decade, according to the Organization of the Exporting Countries. of Oil (OPEC).
Venezuela and PDVSA face serious liquidity problems. In 2017, they were declared in default for late payments of bonds and sanctioned by the United States, which prohibited its citizens and companies from negotiating new debt of the Caribbean country and its oil company.
The Maduro government attributes the collapse of production to corruption and poor management in PDVSA, as well as to lower investments in infrastructure due to the fall in crude prices between 2014 and 2016. However, experts link the fall with the financing, by PDVSA, of a fiscal deficit that is around 20% of GDP.