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Oil report

UPDATE 1-Costa Rica keen to join Petrocaribe oil alliance

(Adds President Arias comments)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, July 15 (Reuters) - Costa Rica said on Tuesday it was eager to join energy alliance Petrocaribe, Venezuela’s oil scheme that offers members soft financing for crude and allows debt repayments with products and services.

President Oscar Arias said despite his country’s interest in joining the oil alliance, there was no set time for this yet.

“What we need to see is whether we need to wait until the next (Petrocaribe) presidents’ meeting in December or if it is possible to benefit sooner from this help,” Arias was quoted as saying in a statement from the presidential office.

Costa Rica says entering Petrocaribe would enhance its energy security since the country depends on oil for two-thirds of its energy needs.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the fiercest antagonist of the United States in Latin America despite being a major U.S. oil supplier, set up Petrocaribe in 2005 to bolster his regional influence.

Cuba, several Caribbean nations and Honduras are among Petrocaribe’s members and Guatemala says it plans to join later this month. Petrocaribe sends 85,900 barrels per day in crude and derivatives to its members.

Chavez said in a recent meeting in Maracaibo that Petrocaribe will allow members to defer payment on 60 percent of their Venezuelan oil bill for up to 25 years, with interest of only 1 percent, as long as oil prices stay above $100 a barrel, and up to 70 percent if oil hits $200 a barrel.

Oil futures in New York CLc1 settled at $138.74 per barrel on Tuesday.

Late last year, Chavez proposed that debts be offset by local products and services, following the example of Cuba, which has sent 20,000 doctors and teachers to Venezuela in exchange for crude and refined products valued at $3 billion a year. (Reporting by John McPhaul; Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by Braden Reddall)

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