SOVIETS TO OFFER WESTERN COMPANIES CHANCE TO EXPLORE

SOVIETS TO OFFER WESTERN COMPANIES CHANCE TO EXPLORE

The Soviet Union for the first time will offer the West's oil industry a chance to do exploration and production work on some of its vast untapped resources.

The Soviet Union is the world's largest oil producer, pumping more than 12.2 million barrels a day. But over the past few years production has lagged expectations, and the Soviet industry is much in need of modernization and Western technology.An unprecedented meeting will be held this morning in Houston between Soviet oil officials and the U.S. oil industry to discuss joint venture opportunities and geological data for four areas of the Western Siberian Basin, a region with 13 billion barrels of proved reserves, and where 60 percent of the country's oil and gas production is centered. Also to be offered is one area of the Volga-Urals Basin.

This is the first time that the Ministry of Oil and Gas Industry has offered definite areas for oil and gas development by Western companies, said a spokesman for PGI Inc. of Houston, an independent geophysical contractor working with the Soviets.

The areas to be offered pose challenges to any exploration and production effort. The five areas have heavy crudes, which are normally more difficult to produce; a high presence of poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas, and crude with a high wax-content, a PGI spokesman said.

The Soviets are seeking help because of their limited capability for deep drilling, and lack of instrumentation, overall technology and capital.

The meeting of Soviet officials and PGI will review joint venture opportunities and regional geological and engineering data. A similar meeting will be held in London on April 3.