UPDATE 3-Venezuela PDVSA awards $3.2 bln oil service contracts, protest brews
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By Alexandra Ulmer, Marianna Parraga and Girish Gupta
CARACAS/HOUSTON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA said on Wednesday it has awarded $3.2 billion in contracts to drill wells in the Orinoco Belt, although sources close to the matter said some foreign partners had complaints the tender was rushed and there were structural problems that could hinder projects.
The fresh discontent comes after Reuters reported in July that tiny Colombian trucking firm Trenaco, whose management was close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, won a multibillion-dollar contract to carry out similar work despite having no relevant experience. (reut.rs/2aqQFyr)
In a rare rebellion, foreign companies protested to PDVSA that Trenaco was vastly underqualified, leading to the cancellation of the $4.5 billion deal amid concerns about transparency and political favoritism.
In a similar tender renewed this year, Schlumberger NV , Oklahoma-based Horizontal Well Drillers and Venezuelan contractor Y&V won contracts to drill a total of 480 wells at three joint ventures between PDVSA and foreign partners.
The projects are designed to add 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 30 months, PDVSA said, as the crisis-hit OPEC country's production slips due to low investment, maintenance problems, limited diluent imports, theft, and a brain drain.
"Investment amounts to $3.2 billion, which demonstrates the strength of PDVSA and shows trust in the national oil company," PDVSA said in a statement. Continuación...