Oil and Gas

Russia to finance Venezuelan mineral development

CARACAS, July 27 (Reuters) - Gazprombank will finance the development of minerals and other raw materials in Venezuela with a $4 billion loan, a top official of the Russian company said.

The announcement is part of several agreements signed between Russia and Venezuela on Monday to develop natural resources in the Caribbean nation.

"In the framework of Gazprombank we've agreed with the Minister of Natural Resources to dedicate large financial resources backed by exports. The deal is worth $4 billion," said Boris Ivanov, a top executive at Gazprom GAZP.MM, the Russian gas export monopoly.

“We’ll provide these resources at the end of August,” said Ivanov during a televised meeting between Russian and Venezuelan officials presided over by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Details of the projects were not immediately clear.

Both sides signed accords to form a joint company to service drilling equipment and compress gas, as well as to cooperate in oil, fisheries and nuclear energy for civilian use.

Ivanov said Gazprom had already imported equipment to begin operations in Venezuela.

“We are very optimistic and thankful. This grants us secure investments,” said Chavez, referring to the development of gold and diamond mines without giving details.

Venezuela and the Russian-Canadian miner Ruso RML.V announced earlier this year the development of large gold reserves valued at up to $30 billion at the Las Cristinas and Brisas mines.

Earlier on Monday Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said PDVSA and a consortium of Russian companies expect to present in September a joint-venture to develop a block in the Orinoco oil belt.

Russia’s deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin, who is on a tour of Latin America, visited the oil fields on Monday. (Reporting by Enrique Pretel and Raymond Colitt; Editing by Michael Urquhart)