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Viewing cable 10CARACAS193, Chevron "Wins" A Carabobo Project

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10CARACAS193 2010-02-12 21:09 2011-01-27 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Caracas
VZCZCXRO3009
RR RUEHAO RUEHNG RUEHRS
DE RUEHCV #0193/01 0432114
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 122114Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0471
INFO OPEC COLLECTIVE
WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CARACAS 000193 
 
SIPDIS 
ENERGY FOR ALOCKWOOD AND LEINSTEIN, DOE/EIA FOR MCLINE 
HQ SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD 
TREASURY FOR MKACZMAREK 
COMMERCE FOR 4332/MAC/WH/JLAO 
NSC FOR DRESTREPO AND LROSSELLO 
OPIC FOR BSIMONEN-MORENO 
AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN PASS TO AMEMBASSY GRENADA 
AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PASS TO AMCONSUL QUEBEC 
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PASS TO AMCONSUL RECIFE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/12 
TAGS: EPET EINV ENRG ECON VE
SUBJECT: Chevron "Wins" A Carabobo Project 
 
REF: 10 CARACAS 11 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Darnall Steuart, Economic Counselor, DOS, Econ; 
REASON: 1.4(B), (D) 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  Chevron and Repsol-led consortia won the rights to 
negotiate mixed company deals with the Ministry of Energy and 
Petroleum (MENPET) in the Carabobo bid round.  In its first major 
heavy oil bid round since President Chavez assumed power in 1999, 
the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (GBRV) offered three Carabobo 
projects and received bids on two.  While not signing any 
agreements, the winning international consortia may now move ahead 
to negotiate more favorable contract terms before signature of a 
joint venture contract and the initial bonus payment.  Chevron said 
that first oil might come on line in 2014 but could well be 
delayed.  The Ambassador was not invited to the Carabobo ceremony 
to accompany his colleagues representing the governments of the 
other international oil companies that bid.  Nevertheless, at the 
ceremony, Chavez said he wants dialogue with the U.S.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
 
Carabobo Winners Announced 
 
 
 
2. (C) PROJECT 3: The February 10 ceremonial event to announce the 
winners in the Carabobo bid round started several hours late and 
was televised in a mandatory national cadena (broadcast).  The 
Chevron-led consortia, including Japan's Mitsubishi, Inpex, and 
Venezuela's Suelopetrol, won project 3, which includes blocks C5, 
C2 South, and C3 North.  Chevron's share in the ultimate joint 
venture will be 34%, the Japanese participants will have 5%, and 
Suelopetrol will have a 1% share.  [NOTE: Chevron's Latin America 
Business Unit President Wes Lohec (protect) told the Ambassador on 
February 12 that Japan's JOGMC has an option to back into a share 
of the Japanese 5%.  The Japanese participation in the consortium 
is particularly important, as it will open the door to possible 
JBIC financing for PDVSA's portion of the project costs.  END NOTE] 
Minister Ramirez stated that the mixed company (60% PDVSA, 40% 
Chevron consortia) should eventually produce between 400,000 and 
480,000 barrels of crude petroleum per day.  When half of the 
production is run through an upgrader and mixed with the other half 
of production, the mixed company will ultimately take 400,000 
barrels of 22-degree API crude to the market.  Ramirez stated that 
the Chevron consortium offered a bonus of $500 million, a billion 
dollars of financing for PDVSA's portion of the project, and an 
upgrader to be constructed in Soldedad.  Lohec informed the 
Ambassador on February 12 that cold crude oil production could 
begin as soon as four years from the date a mixed company is formed 
and that MENPET had committed to provide 300 million barrels of 
blending stock for the first seven years of the project or until an 
upgrader is constructed.  Lohec added that he doubted whether PDVSA 
would achieve any new petroleum production from any of the various 
heavy oil projects it has initiated with national oil companies 
before 2014. 
 
 
 
3. (U) PROJECT 1: Ramirez also announced that the consortium led by 
Spain's Repsol, including India's ONGC, Videsh Limited, Oil Indian 
Corporation, the Indian Oil Corporation, and Malaysia's Petronas, 
won Carabobo's project 1.  This includes the blocks C1 North, and 
C1 Central.  According to Ramirez, Repsol's consortium offered a 
bonus of $1.050 billion, $1.0 billion in financing for PDVSA's 
portion of the project, and an upgrader in Soledad.  Ramirez stated 
that this mixed company would also produce up to 480,000 
barrels/day of upgraded petroleum at 22 degrees API.  Repsol's 
proposal included plans to send some of the upgraded petroleum to a 
refinery in Bilbao, Spain and "other plants in other countries." 
Ramirez stated that the mixed company agreements now to be 
negotiated with the two consortia would be sent to the Venezuelan 
National Assembly for approval on March 25. 
 
CARACAS 00000193  002 OF 003 
 
 
4. (U) PROJECT 2: According to Ramirez, the GBRV did not receive 
any offers on project 2 and that it would be up to President Chavez 
whether Venezuela would develop it on its own or put it back out to 
bid in the future. 
 
 
 
5. (C) BONUS?: Chevron's consortium offered the minimum bonus for 
project 3 (the other two projects had a minimum bonus of $1 
billion).  Repsol's consortium offered $50 million more than the 
minimum bonus payment.  Given that project 3 (Chevron) contained 
three blocks and project 1 (Repsol) contained two blocks, the 
consortia respectively offered $167 million/block and $500 
million/block.  By contrast, in the bilateral deals announced by 
the GBRV for heavy oil projects in the Junin area of the Orinoco 
heavy oil belt, the press has reported that Italy's Eni offered a 
$646 million bonus for Junin 5, PetroVietnam offered a bonus 
between $500 and $600 million, and the Russian oil consortium 
(Rosneft, Lukoil, Gazprom, TNK-BP, and Surgutneftegaz) offered $1 
billion for Junin 6.  Embassy contacts reiterate that, regardless 
of the GBRV announcements, no company has yet made a bonus payment 
to the GBRV.  The Carabobo terms require the first installment of 
the bonus payment 14 days after the mixed company documents are 
approved by the international consortia's boards of directors and 
by the Venezuelan National Assembly.  Thus, the GBRV will not 
receive any bonus funds from the Repsol or Chevron-led consortia 
until the mixed companies have been negotiated and approved. 
 
 
 
6. (C) Mixed Company Formation: On February 11, Chevron President 
for Africa and Latin America Ali Moshiri clarified for the 
Ambassador that the winning consortia had not won blocks or 
projects, but rather the right to negotiate an agreement to form 
mixed companies to produce crude oil.  He described the February 10 
ceremony presided over by President Chavez as a "symbolic event" 
and said that meeting the March 25 deadline for submission of the 
mixed company agreement to the National Assembly would be "magic." 
He noted that on Chevron's part, any agreement would have to be 
approved by its Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  Given 
that its Board of Directors meets monthly, it would be unrealistic 
for Chevron to approve a mixed company deal before March 25.  Many 
unresolved issues remain to be negotiated, including royalty and 
tax rates, windfall profits taxes, shadow tax payments, etc. (see 
Reftel).  The GBRV wants the upgraders constructed in Soledad, but 
Moshiri said that the geographic location of Soledad makes the 
economics of the upgrader untenable.  He noted that he has talked 
to Chavez privately about this issue. 
 
 
 
7. (C) To Bid or Not to Bid:  Lohec described Chevron's basic 
calculus on whether or not to bid on Carabobo as an assessment of 
the likelihood of success in future negotiations with the GBRV. 
Chevron believes "it has a strong hand to play to get to where we 
need to be," said Lohec, a decision that other companies could not 
make.  He added that Chevron is confident it will successfully 
negotiate favorable terms for the formation of a mixed company with 
PDVSA.  Lohec added that MENPET has already agreed to allow the new 
mixed company to lift crude petroleum shipments as dividend 
payments (a scheme Chevron has developed over the past year in its 
mixed company operating PetroBoscan).  He noted that due to the 
phased payment plan for the bonuses, Chevron will only pay MENPET 
$100 million upon signing the documents to form a mixed company and 
that the other four installment payments are linked to project 
milestones, effectively limiting risk exposure.  Lohec underlined 
that the GBRV needs Chevron's expertise because it "is headed down 
a path that is disastrous for them."  In the end, the Venezuelans 
need to produce oil to generate revenue.  Finally, Lohec noted that 
 
CARACAS 00000193  003 OF 003 
 
 
new projects in Iraq likely played into BP and Shell's calculus not 
to bid in Venezuela.  Since Chevron does not have any projects in 
Iraq and is "already big in Venezuela," it decided to continue 
forward here.  Separately, Lohec told Petroleum AttachC) that BP and 
Shell might decide to shut down operations in Venezuela - that it 
all depends on whether limited operations here are profitable or 
not and how long a timeline they are working with, noting that 
Shell usually works with a 20-year timeframe.  Lohec added as an 
aside that Chevron continues negotiations to convert an exploration 
and certification project in the Ayacucho 8 block of the Faja into 
a production expansion adjacent to its current PetroPiar mixed 
company.  [NOTE: Ayacucho 8 does not appear on recent PDVSA maps. 
END NOTE] 
 
 
 
8. (C) Chevron's View on U.S.-Venezuelan Bilateral Relations: 
Moshiri expressed surprise that the Ambassador did not receive an 
invitation to the Carabobo announcement ceremony.  [NOTE: 
Ambassadors or other diplomats from the home countries of the other 
winning oil companies attended the event.  END NOTE] In his opening 
remarks in the televised portion of the event, President Chavez 
stated his desire to establish a dialogue with the U.S. 
administration.  On the margins of the event, he noted to Moshiri 
his desire to see the Houston Astros play in Texas, but added that 
political realities make a visit to the U.S. impossible.  [NOTE: In 
response, Moshiri offered a courtesy invitation for Chavez to visit 
Chevron in Houston.  END NOTE]  Moshiri told the Ambassador that 
Chevron would press the GBRV to extend an invitation to the 
Ambassador to attend any future signing ceremony for the mixed 
company deal.  He also said he would raise the GBRV's failure to 
invite the Ambassador to the Carabobo ceremony the next time he 
spoke with Ambassador Alvarez.  Moshiri noted, however, that he 
believes that Alvarez now has less access to Chavez.  Finally, 
Moshiri said that Alvarez had made it clear that all decisions 
regarding the bilateral relationship with the U.S. are elevated to 
Chavez.  The Ambassador underlined to Moshiri that the USG has made 
every effort to re-establish a dialogue with the GBRV.  In fact, he 
said, the Embassy had been waiting for months for a response from 
the GBRV to Diplomatic Notes responding to GBRV interest in a 
dialogue on energy issues as well as the invitation from Energy 
Secretary Chu to attend the April Energy and Climate Ministerial of 
the Americas.  Moshiri commented that Energy Minister Ramirez would 
not take the risk of responding to these initiatives without a 
decision from Chavez. 
 
 
 
9. (C) Comment: The GBRV and media portrayals of the Carabobo 
ceremony are misleading as no deals were signed.  With the leverage 
the international companies now have in negotiations with the GBRV, 
we would not expect to see any deals signed by late March as the 
companies will take the time they need to secure favorable terms. 
A potential new Chevron deal would solidify its position as the 
GBRV's largest and most important international partner.  Repsol 
has been a relatively minor partner with PDVSA and the Indian 
companies are not currently involved in any projects in Venezuela. 
Their lack of experience raises questions about the potential 
success and ability to move project 1 forward.  In the event that 
new mixed companies are formed, it will be the first time the 
Chavez administration and its Energy Ministry and PDVSA have 
developed, executed, and operated a production project of this 
magnitude.  Many here are skeptical about their ability to do so. 
In the past, Venezuela allowed the major international oil 
companies to engineer, build, and operate the projects.  Since 
nationalization of the sector in 2007, PDVSA has failed to maintain 
and or expand production.  END COMMENT. 
DUDDY