(Updates with comment from Ramirez in third paragraph.)
Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company, plans to boost oil production in the heavy crude fields of the Orinoco belt by 39 percent in 2012 to 1.6 million barrels a day, company president Rafael Ramirez said today.
PDVSA, as the Caracas-based company is known, will invest $236 million through 2018 on infrastructure needed to develop the heavy crude reserves, Ramirez said today in eastern Venezuela, according to an e-mailed statement.
“We currently produce 1.15 million barrels a day in the Orinoco belt, and this year we will reach 1.6 million barrels a day with an intensive drilling campaign,” Ramirez said in the statement.
PDVSA is expanding limited infrastructure in the region, one of the largest oil reserves in the world, so that the company can meet its production goals, said Ramirez, who also serves as the country’s oil minister. PDVSA will add 12,000 workers this year to areas where production increases are planned and will expand its workforce by 100,000 people over the next six years, the minister said.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said in December that the South American country would increase its total production to 3.5 million barrels a day from current daily levels of 3 million barrels. Venezuela produced 2.37 million barrels a day in December, oil cartel OPEC said in its January Oil Market Report.
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