The energy ministers of Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday signed a deal to develop three gas fields that span the countries' maritime border and contain reserves totaling nearly 12 trillion cubic feet.

"We've signed the accords for (the Loran-Manatee bloc, the largest of the three), and today we signed (the accord governing) how we're going to operate those fields," Venezuela's Rafael Ramirez, who also heads state-owned oil giant PDVSA, told reporters.

Ramirez said last week that an agreement had been reached to develop Loran-Manatee, which has reserves totaling more than 10 trillion cubic feet, via a joint venture between PDVSA and U.S. supermajor Chevron Corp.

He said that in the two other shared fields, whose reserves total just over 1 trillion cubic feet, "the technical part has been concluded" and that only the "legal part" is still pending before the development phase can begin.

Ramirez added that the two countries have been in discussions and have held "several meetings" aimed at expanding their energy cooperation.

For his part, Trinidadian Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine hailed the fact that "finally Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela are going to develop this gas" in their maritime border region.

The development of the Loran-Manatee field, 73.75 percent of which is in Venezuela's territorial waters and the remaining 26.25 percent in Trinidad and Tobago, will be carried out from Venezuela's side, Ramirez said last week.

He said that same day that to transport the fuel a "nearly 270-kilometer (165-mile) gas pipeline" would be built to Venezuela's Paria Peninsula and link up with the nearby Gran Mariscal Sucre gas project.

Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago are part of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, which also comprises Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Libya, Nigeria, Oman, Equatorial Guinea and the United Arab Emirates.

These countries account for nearly half of all global exports of conventional gas and 65 percent of proved gas reserves. EFE