| CARACAS/HOUSTON, March 16
CARACAS/HOUSTON, March 16 Venezuelan state oil
company PDVSA has offered Russian counterpart Rosneft a stake in
a joint venture in the country's Orinoco Belt extra-heavy crude
area, five industry sources said, in a sign of the Latin
American nation's dire economic situation and Moscow's growing
Rosneft, Russia's top oil producer, has been
offered a 10 percent stake in the Petropiar joint venture. PDVSA
has a 70 percent share, and U.S. oil company Chevron
Corp holds 30 percent of the venture, which includes an
oil field and a 210,000 barrel-per-day oil upgrader.
Two sources said the offer was part of a larger package put
to Rosneft as PDVSA seeks to raise money for major debts with
providers and bond payments.
It is unclear if Rosneft will accept the offer. Financial
details of the potential transaction were not immediately
PDVSA and Venezuela's Oil Ministry did not respond to
requests for comments. Chevron and Rosneft declined to comment.
A deal would have California-based Chevron working alongside
state-owned Rosneft, which has been affected by U.S. sanctions
against Russia. But Chevron's main concern is that accounting
and transparency laws are less strict in Russia than in the
United States, a source close to the matter said.
The proposal highlights Venezuela's need for cash after the
nation's oil output fell about 10 percent last year, according
to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. This
has worsened a recession that has millions of Venezuelans
Rosneft has already been gaining ground in Venezuela, an
Last year, the company paid $500 million to increase its
stake in the Petromonagas joint venture from 16.7 percent to 40
percent, the maximum foreign partners are allowed to have under
oil sector regulations created under late leader Hugo Chavez.
That raised the ire of the opposition-led National Assembly,
which said the purchase was illegal because Congress did not
approve it. Critics have also said the stake was sold too
In another controversial move, PDVSA last year used 49.9
percent of its shares in coveted U.S. subsidiary Citgo as
collateral for loan financing from Rosneft. PDVSA said this
month it had received $1.985 billion from an unnamed client in
return for future oil shipments, with Citgo shares used as a
In total, Rosneft has lent PDVSA between $4 billion and $5
billion, but the details of those deals have not been disclosed.
"We must thank life that Russia and the world have a
Vladimir Putin," Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said at a
deal-signing event with Rosneft head Igor Sechin last year.
"I wanted to be here at this event because of how important
relations with the new Russia are."
(Additional reporting by Ekaterina Golubkova and Vladimir
Soldatkin in Moscow; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by
Christian Plumb and Lisa Von Ahn)