Eni Starts Oil Production From Venezuela's Junin-5 Field

Eni SpA, Italy’s largest oil company, said its joint venture with Petroleos de Venezuela SA has started producing oil from the Junin-5 block, advancing Venzeula’s plans to develop the world’s largest reserves.

Production from the block in the Orinoco Belt will reach 15,000 barrels a day by the end of the year and 75,000 barrels in 2015, the Rome-based company said in a statement today. The company had previously estimated it would reach 75,000 barrels of output from Junin-5 this year.

The block, which holds the equivalent of 35 billion barrels of oil, is about 550 kilometers (342 miles) southeast of Caracas, the company said. The Orinoco fields may hold more crude reserves than Saudi Arabia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Constanza Viola, an Eni spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the project’s costs. PDVSA President Rafael Ramirez said in July 2011 that Eni will lend the state oil company $1.5 billion for its share of development costs for the block. PDVSA holds 60 percent of Junin-5 and Eni has 40 percent.

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