Chevron Corp. said its Venezuelan affiliate made a significant natural gas discovery at the offshore Macuira 1X exploration well, which will put the company’s plans to build a liquefied natural gas export project on the front burner.

Chevron said the Macuira 1X well encountered six gas intervals with total gross thickness of 456 feet and tested at a rate of 51 MMcf/d from two of the six intervals. Both tests were restricted by equipment. The well is Chevron’s first in Block 3, one of five offshore blocks in Plataforma Deltana, northeast of Venezuela. It is located relatively close to, and on trend with, the Loran gas field in Block 2, where the company drilled successful exploration wells in 2004. The Macuira 1X exploration well was drilled in 382 feet of water, 15 miles southeast of the Block 2 field and 75 miles offshore.

“The success of the Macuira 1X well is exciting in that it confirms the extension of the prolific Columbus Gas Basin farther into Venezuelan waters and also provides additional follow-up potential in the block,” said John Watson, president of Chevron International Exploration & Production.

Ali Moshiri, president of Chevron Latin America Upstream, said Plataforma Deltana appears to “now have the resources needed for a detailed evaluation of Venezuela’s first LNG train.

“With final endorsement of the evaluation program, this will provide the blueprint for Chevron to proceed aggressively with Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) and its partners in the region to make Venezuela’s Plataforma Deltana LNG a reality by the end of this decade.” An LNG export terminal in Venezuela undoubtedly will target the U.S. marketplace because of its close proximity.

Chevron already is marketing the LNG that arrives in Gulf of Mexico at Excelerate’s Gulf Gateways Energy Bridge offshore Louisiana. The company also has a permit to built the Port Pelican LNG import terminal offshore and it is planning a terminal offshore Baja California.

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