Peter Howard Wertheim
RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 29 -- Italy's Eni SPA estimates that Venezuela's state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) caused it losses of $830 million in this year's first half, following termination of an agreement under which Eni operated Dación field.
Eni said it would consider legal action if negotiations are not satisfactory, reported Venezuelan paper El Universal. Dación field reserves are at 175 million bbl, and Eni was producing 60,000 b/d of oil.
In April, 25 of the 32 oil fields operating under operational contracts formally transitioned to joint ventures giving Venezuela a majority stake. Of the seven oil fields whose operations were not transitioned, five were returned to the Venezuelan government amicably. However, France's Total SA did not reach a friendly agreement for its Dación and Jusepín oilfields, and PDVSA unilaterally took control of both operations.
"If negotiations do not meet the expectations of Eni, legal actions will be considered to defend vigorously the company's claim. Eni believes it is entitled to damages proportional to the fair value of the assets," the Italian company stated.
The move is another step in Venezuela's campaign to take on oil majors at a time when the country is in a strong position. Rising oil prices, political instability in the Mideast, and new buyers in Asia have all enhanced Venezuela's position.
"We don't want them here," said Venezuela's oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, referring to international oil companies that resist tax increases and contract changes that are part of a policy by President Hugo Chávez's government to renationalize the oil industry, say Latin American energy experts.
The government increasingly has sought projects with state-owned oil companies, including China National Petroleum Corp., India's Oil & Gas Corp. Ltd., and Iran's Petropars (OGJ Online, Sept. 25, 2006).