3 Aug 2009 13:43

Gazprom contractor says drilling delayed in Venezuela

MOSCOW. Aug 3 (Interfax) - A contractor for Russian gas giant Gazprom has for the first time officially stated that delays occurred with the construction of a prospecting well at the Urumaco-1 offshore block in Venezuela.

The contractor, Scorpion Offshore Limited, said in a statement that "pursuant to the Offshore Vigilant's contract with Gazprom in Venezuela, Gazprom has informed Scorpion that as a result of a "fishing job" 550 hours worked in May 2009 be classified at Lost in Hole and Repair Rates resulting in $3.8 million in revenue being disputed during the month. "An independent third party has been retained to render an opinion in an effort to resolve the dispute. In the interim, and although Scorpion does not agree with the position taken by Gazprom, we have not recorded the $3.8 million as revenue in the quarter and year ended 30 June 2009," Scorpion said.

A source at Gazprom told Interfax in May that an accident had hampered drilling at Urumaco-1. Gazprom has neither officially denied nor confirmed an accident occurred. Gazprom's press office has told Interfax that the company was "continuing the process of drilling at a depth of more and not thinking about discontinuing drilling operations at Urumaco-1."

Urumaco-1, which comprises the Coro-Coro and R3 prospects, contains a probable 29.6 billion cubic meters of gas. It is in the Eastern section of the Gulf of Venezuela. Gazprom paid $15.2 million for the license in 2005.

Gazprom started to drill the well in November following a high profile ceremony attended by Venezuelan and Russian government officials and Gazprom's management.