Oil and Gas

FACTBOX: Russian arms sales and investment in Venezuela

(Reuters) - Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez visits a resurgent Russia this week on an arms shopping trip that raises the anti-U.S. leader’s profile and will irritate his hosts’ rivals in Washington.

Here are some key facts about Russian arms sales and investments in Venezuela:

* Chavez has visited Russia five times since taking office in 1999, spending at least $2 billion dollars on weapons that include 24 Sukhoi fighter jets, dozens of helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov AK-103 assault rifles.

* Russia’s No. 2 oil firm LUKOIL is exploring a block in Venezuela’s Orinoco belt, which has huge reserves of tarry oil. LUKOIL has also considered building a refinery in Venezuela, but the company last month complained that law changes were delaying its production plans.

* Russian controlled gold miner Rusoro has expanded its operations in Venezuela at a time when U.S. and Canadian miners are struggling to get permits to work.

* Russia’s prime minister and former president, Vladimir Putin, said in June he was looking forward to Chavez’s visit, saying it was unfortunate there was not more mutual investment and trade between the two nations.

* Putin named state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom, LUKOIL and state railway monopoly Russian Railways as Russian companies interested in increasing investment in Venezuela. Gazprom is already exploring two offshore gas blocks there.

Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel in Caracas; Editing by Kieran Murray