Venezuela has postponed bidding among foreign oil companies for contracts to explore seven areas within its heavy-oil-producing Orinoco belt, it has been revealed.
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez says that Venezuela has decided to suspend bidding because companies need more time to carry out analytical work.
Bidding was expected to begin on 28 July but Ramirez has not yet offered a new timetable for the process.
The government of Venezuela decided last year to invite foreign oil companies to consider taking minority stakes in seven projects run by state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela.
The Orinoco belt is expected to pump 400,000 barrels of crude a day by 2011, and then double that output by 2015.