Sincor on stream
Production started on 20 December from Venezuela's Sincor heavy crude project, in which Statoil has a 15 per cent interest.
This milestone has been passed less than two and a half years since development work was initiated in 1998.
Early production is due to reach 40,000 barrels per day by early 2002, with opportunities for further increases.
The heavy crude will initially be blended with lighter oils before being sold on the international market, reports Statoil project manager Petter Henrik Øyen.
A plant under construction at Jose on the Caribbean coast, due to be completed in early 2002, will upgrade Sincor oil to a light low-sulphur crude. This facility can convert 200,000 barrels per day into 180,000 barrels of the light oil.
With a total price tag of USD 4 billion, the project represents Statoil's largest investment to date outside Norway.
About 20 Statoil personnel are working for the Sincor company. Apart from Statoil, the owners are TotalFinaElf with a 47 per cent share and PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company, with 38 per cent.