MORICHAL: Venezuela’s oil and fuel shipments to China rose 18 per cent in the first four months of 2013 to reach 626,000 barrels per day, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Wednesday.
The South American OPEC nation under the leadership of the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez vastly boosted crude supplies to the Asian giant while reducing sales to the United States, which has historically been its principal market.
Part of the those shipments have gone to pay off some $36 billion in oil-for-loan agreements with Beijing.
“Venezuela went from sending 49,000 barrels per day to China in 2005 to 626,000 barrels per day during the course of this year,” Ramirez said during a trip to the vast Orinoco heavy oil belt along with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao.
He did not offer a breakdown of how much was in crude and how much was in products.
State oil company PDVSA and China National Petroleum Company, or CNPC, are jointly developing the Petrourica project, which is seen reaching 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2017.
Ramirez, who is also PDVSA president, last month said the project would begin pumping its first barrels in May.
He said Venezuela and China reached a deal for $4 billion in financing to boost production at Petrosinovensa, another joint venture between the two companies that produces extra-heavy Orinoco crude.
Ramirez will travel to China to formalize the agreement, the details of which are to be announced soon. Output at Petrosinovensa has risen to 140,000 bpd from 20,000 bpd in 2007.