The Washington Post reported on 6 July that France’s Total and China National Petroleum Corp have placed bids for two heavy-oil blocks being auctioned in Venezuela.

It is unknown which particular blocks the companies have jointly bid for but there is speculation about the region’s oil sands blocks.

According to the Washington Post two unnamed people involved in the bidding round said that the bids being placed include the building of upgraded facilities for processing oil and plans to clean up sludge-like oil from the block, and cost between $7 and $10bn.

Venezuela needs funds from foreign companies to increase its own reserves and reduce its dependency on the US.

The blocks are in the Carabobo region and are two of seven on offer. Bids close on 28 July this year with results to be announced on 14 August.