Venezuela signs oil, gold investment deals with Russia: Maduro

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela has signed deals securing investment from Russia in the South American country’s oil and gold sectors, President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday at the end of a three-day trip to Moscow.

“We have signed contracts to guarantee investments of more than $5 billion with our Russian partners in joint ventures to raise oil production,” Maduro said in a video posted on his Twitter account.

“We are also guaranteeing an investment of $1 billion for mining, mostly in gold.”

Maduro did not provide specifics about where the investments would be made or how much money Russian companies would contribute. Venezuela’s Information and Oil Ministries did not immediately respond to requests for additional details.

With Venezuela’s oil output collapsing amid hyperinflation and a fifth year of economic contraction, Maduro flew to Moscow on Monday to meet with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The two planned to discuss financial help for Caracas and cooperation on oil and gas, a Kremlin aide said.

Russia has become a key lender of last resort for cash-strapped Venezuela in recent years, but Maduro’s government has struggled to pay its debts. The head of Russian oil company Rosneft flew to Caracas last month to press Maduro over delayed oil shipments aimed at repaying loans.

“Russia and Venezuela are more united than ever,” Maduro said.

Maduro has also sought to boost the country’s gold output as an alternative source of hard currency as revenue from oil, which makes up over 90 percent of exports, dries up.

The United States has sought to restrict Venezuela’s gold trade through sanctions.

Reporting by Corina Pons and Luc Cohen; editing by Jonathan Oatis