MINSK, Belarus, March 30 (UPI) -- Belarus' state-owned Belarusneft has begun oil-prospecting work in Venezuela, according to Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka.
"The Belarusian side has received the so-called Junin-1 block for carrying out prospecting and certification work," he said. "It is a promising block in the basin of the Orinoco River. Huge volumes of oil can be extracted there in the future. It will be handed over to the Belarusian side for further development."
The comments were reported by Belarusian radio Thursday.
Syamashka said production plans may be devised by the end of this year.
Starting in 2008, Belarus plans to extract at least 2 million tons of oil annually in Venezuela, South America's No. 1 producer.
A joint venture for oil extraction will be set up in Venezuela under deals signed between the two sides.
The Oil and Gas Journal estimates that Venezuela, the world's No. 8 net oil exporter, had 79.7 billion barrels of proven conventional oil reserves.