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Venezuela inks new oil deal with Chinese firms

by Staff Writers
Caracas (AFP) March 21, 2011
Venezuela is shoring up economic ties with Chinese companies with the signing of new trade and investment agreements, in a bid by President Hugo Chavez to reduce dependence on Washington.

Among the agreements signed last week is a new co-venture between state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and China's financial conglomerate CITIC Group for developing mining and drilling projects.

Another agreement includes an extension of a $4 billion line of credit for Caracas' housing investments.

Trade relations between the two countries have exploded in recent years -- 5000 percent over the past decade, according to data from Caracas -- with Beijing increasingly interested in oil ventures in the South American country.

The deals this month come after the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) began investing in oil extraction projects in Venezuela's Junin 1 and Junin 8 drilling blocs, and as China National Oil Off Shore (CNOOC) undertakes gas production in the Mariscal Sucre gas fields on Venezuela's eastern shores.

Currently Venezuela produces three million barrels per day (bpd) in crude, with 400,000 going to China.

According to analysts Caracas is hoping to raise its exports to a million bpd in three years, the same amount taken by Caracas's other main client -- and ideological adversary -- the United States.

Venezuela has meanwhile opened its doors to Chinese products, and moved into the military field also with Caracas' purchase of 18 Chinese K-8 fighter jets, and assistance to launch a telecommunications satellite.

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