CARACAS Venezuela said on Saturday it was
working on a raft of oil deals with China, giving impetus to
President Hugo Chavez's attempts to break his country's
dependence on oil exports to the United States.
The China National Petroleum Corp. will look to develop
heavy crude oil production in the Orinoco Belt and cooperate
with Venezuela in building three refineries in China and a
"super-fleet" of crude tankers, the Information Ministry said.
"The United States as a power is on the way down, China is
on the way up. China is the market of the future," Chavez was
quoted as saying by an Information Ministry statement after
meeting CNPC President Jiang Jiemin in Caracas.
China's economic expansion has turned it into the world's
second-biggest oil consumer. OPEC member Venezuela was the
fifth-biggest oil exporter to the United States in January.
Analysts reckon it pumps about 2.7 million barrels per day.
Chavez has ambitious plans to lift oil exports to China to
lessen its dependence on its arch-foe the United States, saying
it hopes to send 1 million barrels per day to China by 2012.
This optimistic target follows an earlier goal of more than
tripling oil exports to China of 160,000 bpd by 2009.
The Information Ministry said CNPC would sign on Monday a
preliminary deal to take a 40 percent stake in various
Venezuelan heavy crude projects.
CNPC is already working in the Junin 4 block but Chavez
said the Chinese oil giant wanted to expand its Orinoco
operations with "billions of dollars" of investment.
Chavez is pushing ahead with a nationalization of
Venezuela's oil industry, stripping major U.S. companies such
as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM.N), ConocoPhillips (COP.N) and
Chevron Corp. (CVX.N) of their majority stakes in heavy crude
While sidelining such majors, Chavez is seeking to do more
business with China, Russia and Iran, part of forming what he
describes as a multipolar alliance against the United States.
He said the three proposed refineries in China would
process 800,000 bpd of Venezuelan crude. The proposed new
tanker fleet would not just run China-Venezuela routes but also
operate in the Caribbean and take shipments to Africa, Chavez
Although Venezuela has signed many memorandums of
understanding on commercial cooperation with countries in the
developing world, many of the proposals have been very slow to
turn into anything concrete.
In a sign that Venezuela's ties to China hinge on politics
as well as commerce, Li Changchun, who sits of the Chinese
Communist Party's omnipotent nine-member Politburo Standing
Committee, will visit Venezuela next week.