Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Argentina's Nestor Kirchner inaugurated Wednesday the first well in the heavy-crude Orinoco strip to be operated by Argentine companies.
The deposits are located in Block Ayacucho Number 6, Rig PDV 09, in San Tomé, south Anzoátegui state, one of four states which hold huge deposits of hydrocarbons, mostly undeveloped, in eastern Venezuela. Kirchner on an official visit to Venezuela met with Chavez in Puerto Ordaz and together they toured the oil producing area and signed investment and cooperation agreements on several fields. In a press conference President Kirchner said that "nobody should be possibly disturbed in the face of integration among our peoples. We have to put an end to paternalistic theories both institutionally and politically." "It has been said that some countries should restrain other countries, or that me or Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had to restrain President Chávez. This is a complete mistake. We, together with our brother President Chávez, are making room for South America, for the construction of our peoples' dignity", he emphasized. The Orinoco hydrocarbons zone has become a key player in President Chavez's energy and foreign policy strategies, with the potential of turning Venezuela into the country with the world's largest oil reserves. Deposits are estimated in 235 billion barrels. Government owned Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., PDVSA, expects 15.3 billion US dollar investments between 2006 and 2012 from partners in Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran, India, Malaysia, Russia, Spain, Uruguay and Vietnam. Such hopes also involve four heavy oil refining ventures with US corporations Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips, Chevron Texaco and British Petroleum, Total (France) and Statoil (Norway). Venezuela is the US fourth supplier of oil.