Venezuela’s Growing Oil Partner

From the November 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

Venezuela and China are strengthening their relationship through energy trade, announcing in September a $10 billion project to develop Venezuela’s oil-rich Faja del Orinoco region. According to Energy-Daily .com, this is part of a “continuing effort by Caracas to bolster ties between the two countries” (September 12).

The announcement is seen as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s latest move to turn away from the United States and toward other nations, particularly those considered unfriendly toward Washington.

Venezuela currently relies on the U.S. to buy most of its oil exports. That could change, however. Venezuela has already announced it will buy 13 oil rigs from China, and last year it concluded a $1.8 billion petroleum construction and equipment deal. Chavez also stated last year he wanted to double oil exports to China to 300,000 barrels per day.

Now, with Chinese involvement in the Orinoco project, Caracas is taking even more bold and enabling steps away from the U.S. The Venezuelan state-owned energy company said it would partner with a Chinese firm to build three refineries in China.

The Orinoco project alone will produce a maximum of 1 million barrels per day, according to Venezuelan Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez.

In his decade as president, Chavez has blasted the U.S. and President George W. Bush, tied himself closely to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, paid a state visit to Saddam Hussein, met with Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi, explored selling energy to North Korea, and strengthened his country’s ties with Iran. Of all his attacks on the U.S., reducing oil deliveries could prove to be the most dangerous.