Belarus national oil company Belarusneft will start reserve assessment work in Venezuela's Orinoco extra-heavy crude oil belt, according to a Venezuelan state official.
"Belarusneft will commence drilling the first exploratory stratigraphic well at the Junin 1 block, most likely in March," Pedro Leon said.
Leon is new businesses director at CVP, the specialty subsidiary of state oil firm PDVSA that handles relations with the private sector and foreign partners in oil and gas ventures.
Belarusneft was created in 2006, shortly before Venezuela's energy and oil minister Rafael Ramirez and his Belarus counterpart Alexander Ozenets signed an MOU for the Orinoco reserve assessment work.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has visited Belarus and expressed his wish for stronger ties between the two countries.
The Junin 1 work is part of Venezuela's Magna Reserva reserve assessment plan that PDVSA is performing with partners.
Meanwhile, PDVSA is compiling new and existing technologies for the E&P, refining and upgrading of extra-heavy Orinoco oil in a single plan to be called Proyecto Tecnologico Faja, Leon said.
Orinoco could hold up to 1.36Bb of extra-heavy crude, of which 390Mb could be retrieved, according to government figures.
But the retrieval factor depends on new technologies. Existing methods and equipments guarantee PDVSA and partners can retrieve roughly 20% of the Orinoco's oil, although Leon said new technologies could obtain 30% or more.
"The project will include our technologies, those being developed by [PDVSA's R&D unit] Intevep and some technologies from outside purveyors," Leon said.