Venezuela still mulling participation in costly Brazil refinery joint venture


GUIRIA -- Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA) sees its participation in the Abreu e Lima joint refinery venture in Brazil as "very expensive" but hasn't yet made a final decision whether to stay in the project, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said.

We are revising the costs in the refinery and its very, very expensive, Mr. Ramirez told reporters. "That's part of the discussions," with Petrobras, the minister said.

The Venezuelan company failed to meet a number of deadlines over the last couple years for it to provide the loan guarantees and financing for its share of the 230,000 bpd crude oil refinery. For its part, Petrobras has said that it plans to go through with the refinery with or without PdVSA.

The investment cost for PdVSA is around $20 billion, Mr. Ramirez explained, comparing it to a 100,000 bpd refinery being constructed in Venezuela in conjunction with a Korean consortium that "doesn't exceed $2 billion."

When asked about the status of the Brazilian project, Mr. Ramirez said that he and the Petrobras chief remain in direct discussions and that they decided not to make further comments to the media until a decision has been made.

At the same time, Mr. Ramirez said PdVSA is on the lookout for buyers for some of its North American refineries which currently do not process Venezuelan crude.

"That network of refineries has been problematic in the way it had been acquired and how it is geographically situated. It receives little Venezuelan crude which is why we are selling refineries that don't process our oil. It doesn't interest me to become a buyer of United States nor Canadian oil, Mr. Ramirez said."

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