Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of energy giant Gazprom, has been made a project leader for the Junin-6 project in the heavy oil basin of Venezuela's Orinoco River, the company said on Tuesday.
The status was awarded to Gazprom Neft by the National Oil Consortium (NNK) established by Gazprom Neft, LUKoil, Rosneft, Surgutneftegas and TNK-BP, which each hold equal stakes in the project, the company said in a statement.
NNK has paid $600 million as the first payment for the right to take part in a joint venture with CVP, a subsidiary of Venezuelan state-own oil firm PdVSA. CVP owns 60 percent in the venture and the consortium holds the rest.
"In its capacity as project leader, Gazprom Neft will coordinate the [Russian side of] operations in the Russian-Venezuelan joint venture PetroMiranda," the statement said. PetroMiranda was established to implement the Junin-6 project.
As a project leader, Gazprom Neft will carry out technical expert works and work out the guidelines of day-to-day project implementation for the Russian members of PetroMiranda's board. The company will be in charge of making the final investment decision on the further development of the Junin-6 field, planned for 2013.
The Junin-6 block, with an area of 447,850 square kilometers, holds 52.6 billion barrels of oil, while its recoverable reserves total 10.96 billion barrels. Within the Junin-6 block, 14 wells have already been drilled, Gazprom Neft said.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said that the Russian side was ready to pay Venezuela another $1 billon to develop more fields.
Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko has said that the $1 billion bonus could be paid for the Ayacucho -2, Ayacucho-3, and Junin-3 blocks. The project's total investment is estimated at $20 billion.
Work on the 25-year project is scheduled to begin later this year. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said that the joint venture plans to produce 50,000 barrels of oil per day in 2014, and have a daily production of 450,000 barrels by 2017.