Rich Oil and Gas Deposits
In addition to its rich biological diversity, Venezuela has abundant oil and gas reserves and is the fifth-largest oil exporter and seventh-largest oil producer in the world. The company responsible for managing and tapping those reserves is Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA). PDVSA is a global energy corporation owned by the government of Venezuela. Its operations include the exploration, production, refining, transport and marketing of hydrocarbons, as well as chemical, petrochemical and coal businesses. The company holds several subsidiaries including Palmaven, Intevep and CITGO.
Planning for Expanded Oil and Gas Extraction
PDVSA has identified the development of the offshore oil and gas reserves as an important component of its strategic plans. PDVSA is currently engaged in a large-scale assessment of oil and gas deposits in the Venezuelan Caribbean Sea region. Upon completion of this review, PDVSA will divide the entire area into geographical “blocks.” PDVSA will lease the blocks to private energy companies that will be in charge of exploring and drilling. The private oil companies, however, will be obligated to follow PDVSA’s guidelines that will be stated in a contract for each assigned block.
Proactive Efforts to Reduce Environmental Impacts
Aware of the environmental degradation likely to occur in upcoming offshore oil and gas exploitation, PDVSA hired The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Institute of Marine Science and Technology (Intecmar, Simón Bolívar University) for environmental guidance. TNC and Intecmar facilitated an ecoregional planning process to identify target conservation areas and to recommend environmentally conscious practices and strategies that would be taken into account prior to exploitation. PDVSA agreed to the proposal and funded the research and data collection needed for planning with Simón Bolívar University.