ONGC Sees Start of Venezuelan Project Delayed by Election

India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. expects the start of production at the Carabobo 1 block in Venezuela to be delayed until early next year as the South American country prepares for presidential elections in October.

The project, previously slated to begin output in December, will probably start producing about 10,000 barrels of heavy crude a day in February or March, an executive at ONGC, as the New Delhi-based state-owned company is known, said today in a conference call.

“It is progressing slower than we had planned to execute, and in view of the elections, which are going to take place in October, perhaps the progress will remain slow for the time being,” ONGC Executive Director of Corporate Finance B.L. Ghasolia said, according to a transcript of the conference call.

ONGC has no reason to believe Venezuela is planning to nationalize its stake in the Carabobo block, said Ghasolia, referring to “reports of speculative nature.” ONGC holds an 11 percent stake in the Carabobo 1 block awarded in 2010 to companies including Repsol SA, Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd., Indian Oil Corp. and Oil India Ltd.

Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company, has a 60 percent stake in the project, which will eventually produce as much as 480,000 barrels a day of oil. India’s government said on July 11 that it planned to invest $2.2 billion in the block.