Gazprom to Drill Off Venezuela

Gazprom will begin drilling for natural gas off Venezuela on November 7, the first exploration in areas auctioned in 2005.

The company will drill to 914 meters, President Hugo Chavez said Sunday in a statement. Gazprom will use a rig rented from Scorpion Offshore. It was originally scheduled to arrive in October.

Venezuela, which has South America's biggest natural gas reserves, is boosting the search for gas to eliminate imports from Colombia, reduce use of expensive diesel fuel in power plants and secure more raw materials for its chemicals industry.

Chevron and Repsol have secured a drilling rig to explore areas adjacent to Gazprom in the Gulf of Venezuela, according to an August 12 securities filing by PetroFalcon, which is buying minority stakes in the Chevron and Repsol blocks.

Chavez said he would meet with President Dmitry Medvedev later this month to talk about energy agreements and the creation of a binational bank.