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Friday, September 26, 2008

China, Venezuela step up energy cooperation

Venezuela can provide much petroleum that China needs to keep its economy going.

China, Venezuela step up energy cooperation

BEIJING (AFP) — China and Venezuela signed several energy agreements in Beijing on Wednesday that will allow the South American country to export half a million barrels of oil a day to the Asian giant from 2009.

The agreements are part of a three-day visit by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to China that began on Tuesday, aimed at developing cooperation with Beijing, which it calls a "strategic ally."

Venezuela, the fifth exporter of crude oil in the world, currently only represents 4 percent of Chinese imports of the product.

"Currently, we have 364,000 oil barrels a day and by 2009 we will get to 500,000," said Venezuela's energy minister Rafael Ramirez, after 12 accords were signed in the presence of Chavez and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The agreements include the delivery of fuel oil to China by national Venezuelan oil company PDVSA and the construction of a refinery in Venezuela to process crude oil from the oil-rich region of Orenoque.

The two countries also agreed to build four tankers, he said, and signed a deal to double the capital in a joint investment fund, created two years ago, from 6 billion to 12 billion dollars a year.

"China will bring four billion and we will bring two billion, it is a fund that is mainly used for investment in Venezuela in infrastructure, electricity, education, agricultural and rail projects," said Haiman El Troudi, Venezuela's minister for forward planning.

"In return, we provide crude oil, fuel oil and oil to China as payment," he said.

Chavez was due to travel to Russia on Thursday, then France and Portugal as part of an international tour that has already taken him to Cuba.

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