The overseas oil and gas production arm of LUKoil [RTS: LKOH] said this is the start of the second stage of the program to assess and certify the reserves of one of the most promising oil fields in Latin America.
Work at the Junin-3 field in Venezuela's east, with an area of 640 square kilometers, is being conducted on the basis of an agreement between LUKoil Overseas and PDVSA's arm CVP, dated October 12, 2005.
The 1,370 meter deep NZZ-213 stratigraphic well is the first of 17 such sites at the field.
"The results of well drilling are called upon to confirm the correctness of optimistic conclusions made by a joint expert group of LUKoil Overseas and PDVSA during the first phase of the assessment and certification work," the statement said.
The second stage of the project also includes a seismic survey, interpretation and correlation of data from neighboring fields, monitoring of the geological model and specification of the oil reserve assessment.
The third stage of the project, which will include the construction of the geological, statistic and dynamic models of the field, will start in the second half of 2007. The fourth stage, scheduled for October 2007, will include certification of the field's reserves by international experts.
Work at the Junin-3 field is part of PDVSA's strategic program Magna Reserva, designed to increase the proven oil reserves in Venezuela by 235 billion barrels.
LUKoil, Russia's largest oil company, said in November it is working on a project to refine crude from Venezuela in Canada.
The company also said it plans to invest $27 billion by 2017 in hydrocarbon production and new acquisitions abroad.
LUKoil is currently developing 26 projects in 13 countries.