Benton Oil & Gas Co., an Oxnard-based petroleum exploration and production firm, said that its Venezuelan operations have not been adversely impacted by that country's economic crisis.
A large portion of Venezuela's banking system has fallen into state hands since January, when Banco Latino, the country's second-largest bank, collapsed. Dozens of the bank's executives have since been ordered arrested on suspicion of theft and swindling, and experts have predicted that the Venezuelan government's cost of bailing out Banco Latino could reach $5 billion.
Benton, as an 80% owner of a joint venture in Venezuela, is under contract with an affiliate of the Venezuelan national oil company for reactivation and further development of three Venezuelan oil fields.
The company financed the project partly through the issuance of $15 million in commercial paper expected to be rolled over every 60 days. When that paper came due in February, one month after the banking crisis erupted, investors balked at another 60-day term, and Benton was forced to pay off the debt, said Chief Financial Officer Greg Grabar.
But despite Venezuela's economic troubles, the company said it has received, on schedule, a quarterly payment of about $5 million in U.S. dollars for delivery of 614,000 barrels of oil during the second quarter that ended June 30. Development of the project will continue to move forward, the company said.