By an OGJ Online Correspondent
CARACAS, Feb. 9�The Sincor joint venture has opened an oil production processing station in eastern Venezuela as part of a network to produce, upgrade, and export heavy crude from Venezuela�s Orinoco Oil Belt.
The facility mixes 8�-gravity heavy crude with a lighter 30�-gravity Mesa crude, creating a more marketable 16�-gravity crude known as Zuata 16.
The plant in San Diego de Cabrutica, 325 miles east of Caracas in Anzoategui state, can handle 210,000 b/d of extra heavy crude and up to 300,000 b/d of diluted crude.
Once an upgrading plant at Jose in Anzoategui state is completed�by the end of this year or early in 2002�Sincor will further upgrade that crude to produce a 32�-gravity synthetic crude, dubbed Zuata Sweet, for export.
Sincor sent its first 600,000 bbl shipment of Zuata 16 Jan. 30 to the US Gulf of Mexico.
Sincor started producing extra heavy crude at its San Diego de Cabrutica oil field Dec.17 (OGJ Online, Dec. 20, 2000). Since then, production has been increased to 40,000 b/d.
Sincor is a $4 billion venture of TotalFinaElf SA with 47%, Petroleos de Venezuela SA 38%, and Statoil 15%.
Sincor is one of four ventures being developed in the Orinoco Oil Belt, estimated to have 240 billion bbl of low gravity crude reserves.
Sincor is producing 40,000-50,000 b/d of Orinoco crude. Once the network of production facilities, upgrader, and pipelines are completed by the end of this year, the Sincor venture expects to produce 200,000 b/d of heavy crude.