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    Gazprom to become Russia-Venezuela energy consortium operator

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    Gazprom is set to become the operator for a Russia-Venezuela oil and gas consortium, the head of the Russian energy giant's external economic activities department said Wednesday.

    MOSCOW, October 22 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom is set to become the operator for a Russia-Venezuela oil and gas consortium, the head of the Russian energy giant's external economic activities department said Wednesday.

    "Gazprom will at least receive the operator status in the first stage. This was the request of the Venezuelan partners," Stanislav Tsygankov told journalists.

    Russia's energy minister, Sergei Shmatko, said earlier the consortium, to be set up next spring, will include Russian producers Gazprom, Rosneft, TNK-BP, Surgutneftegaz and LUKoil, and that investment from the Russian companies would total "tens of billions of dollars."

    Venezuela's state oil and natural gas company PDVSA will hold a controlling stake in the consortium.

    Venezuela is one of the world's largest oil producing states, with about 87 billion barrels of proven conventional oil reserves. In addition, it has huge non-conventional oil deposits (heavy oil). Most of these deposits are located in the Orinoco oil belt.

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