Upgrading Sincor oil

January 10, 2002, 12:00 CET

Heavy oil from the Venezuelan Sincor project is being upgraded to light, low-sulphur crude now that the treatment plant at José on the Caribbean coast has been completed.

Statoil has a 15 per cent stake in the project.

Olav Birkeland, vice president for refining in Sincor, expects the first production of the low-sulphur light crude, Zuata Sweet, to be loaded on tankers in February.

The heavy crude is produced on land in the Zuata region of the Orinoco belt before being piped to the upgrading facility in José.

Early production started one year ago, and more than 15 million barrels of heavy crude have been produced. In this time the heavy oil has been blended with lighter oils before being sold on the international market.

The upgrading facility has a capacity of 200,000 barrels per day; 180,000 barrels of this is converted into synthetic crude.

Construction of the upgrading facility started in 1998. Total investments in the Sincor project amount to around USD 4.2 billion (NOK 37.4 billion), 15 per cent of which will be paid by Statoil.