The Orinoco Oil Belt, located in the southern part of Venezuela, is a gigantic reservoir of 55,000 sq. Km, which contains accumulations of heavy and extra-heavy hydrocarbons of 1,200 MMM barrels of oil in place, and final recovery of 270 MMM barrels. The first well, Canoa N°1, was drilled in 1935. At that time, various multinational companies started exploratory activities in the area. However, due to the oil characteristics, such as low gravity, high viscosity and metals content, the interest of these companies decayed rapidly. Finally, in 1977 the Executive Branch, through the Ministry of Energy and Mines, assigned the responsibility to PDVSA of planning and executing the necessary activities to evaluate and develop the energy resources of Faja.

During the period 1978/1983, an intensive exploration and evaluation program was developed1 , including drilling about 1,000 wells, which resulted in a detailed evaluation of the regional geological model, the reservoir characteristics and the crude physicochemical properties. The facility requirements for oil transportation and processing were analyzed as well. Simultaneously, a territorial ordaining of the entire southwestern part of the country was carried out through an Agreement among PDVSA and several Government institutions.

In the early 90′s, as a result of the hydrocarbon worldwide demand forecast and the huge heavy and extra-heavy crude reserves in the Faja, PDVSA, in accordance to the premises established by the Government, decided to promote the creation of Strategic Associations to carry out projects with the aim of fully developing the Faja.

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