Venezuela says it has signed a deal with five mainly Russian energy companies to exploit its deposits of heavy crude oil.
State-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA says its agreement is with a consortium of Russian oil and gas companies Rosneft, Lukoil, Gazprom and Surgutneftegaz. TNK-BP, a British-Russian joint venture, also is participating.
The joint enterprise will exploit an area of Venezuela's heavy-oil producing Orinoco Oil Belt, where they expect to pump 400,000 to 450,000 barrels a day.
Venezuela will have a 60 percent stake in the venture and its partners will share the remaining 40 percent.
In a statement Saturday, Petroleos de Venezuela says the partners will also invest in a facility to turn the heavy crude into lighter oil.