Venezuela plans to increase oil sales to China by year’s end, official says |

Venezuela plans to increase oil sales to China by year’s end, official says

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela plans to increase oil its sales to China by 50,000 barrels a day by the end of the year, the country’s oil minister said.Venezuela’s state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, will increase sales to China to 200,000 barrels a day from the current 150,000 barrels per day, Rafael Ramirez said Tuesday. He said the shipments include crude and other products, such as fuel oil.President Hugo Chavez and other officials had previously said they hoped Venezuela would be exporting 300,000 barrels a day to China by the end of the year.Though the United States remains the No. 1 buyer of Venezuelan crude, Chavez’s government has sought to sell increasing amounts to a variety of other countries in recent years. As recently as 2004, the South American country exported only 12,300 barrels a day to China.Chavez also plans to seal an agreement during a visit to Beijing this month to buy 12 Chinese-made oil drills and to have an additional 12 drills assembled in Venezuela at a new joint factory, Ramirez said.The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on its Web site that Chavez will make a state visit to China from Aug. 22-27. It said Chavez was formally invited by Chinese President Hu Jintao but did not give details of his itinerary.Venezuela’s congress on Tuesday, however, said Chavez’s China visit will include a tour of the facilities where initial work is being done on a communications satellite for Venezuela.The South American country last year signed a deal with China for the satellite that it hopes will bring it full autonomy in telecommunications. The satellite, which is expected to be in orbit by 2008, will bear the name of Venezuelan independence hero Simon Bolivar, Chavez said.Chavez will sign a series of energy, financial, technological and cultural accords during his trip, which will also take him to Malaysia and Angola, the congress said in a statement.Since taking office in 1999, Chavez has forged strong ties with China. During his last visit in December 2004, Chavez signed a series of accords in oil, technology and other areas.Ramirez said Tuesday that Venezuela also will work on developing the aging oil fields in the Zumano area of eastern Anzoategui state with China National Petroleum Corporation, or CNPC.CNPC is also involved in certifying heavy oil reserves in the Orinoco river basin, where Venezuela’s state oil company hopes to sharply increase production of heavy crude in the coming years.

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