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Exxon Mobil Corp. has begun shipping partially refined crude oil from a $790 million project in Venezuela to a refinery in Louisiana.
The Cerro Negro plant takes crude oil from nearby Venezuelan fields and partially refines it, then ships it via pipeline and tanker to the Chalmette refinery in Louisiana, where it is converted into gasoline and other products, according to Reuters.
The first shipment of so-called upgraded oil left Venezuela Aug. 7, the company said.
Exxon Mobil and its partners have invested $1.6 billion in the Cerro Negro project, which can process 120,000 barrels of heavy crude oil per day.
Over the next 35 years, they hope to produce 1.5 billion barrels of oil, which could be worth nearly $40 billion at current prices on mercantile exchanges, although the company declined to put a number on its expected sales.
Exxon Mobil and Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, each own 41.67 percent interest in the project, which is operated by Exxon Mobil. Germany's Veba Oel holds the remaining 16.67 percent stake, the report said.