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Venezuela touts oil pact as aid to Caribbean countries

Venezuela touts oil pact as aid to Caribbean countries

Venezuela touted its energy aid to poor Caribbean nations as leaders from across the region gathered Saturday for talks on President Hugo Chavez's Petrocaribe initiative.
While oil ministers met behind closed doors, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said the Petrocaribe oil pact is bringing hope to the Caribbean, a region he said "always used to be a land of (U.S.) imperialism."
Since 2005, when Chavez created Petrocaribe, 14 countries have joined Venezuela in the pact, which lets them finance up to half their oil bills over 25 years at low interest.
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said Friday that Venezuela is making progress helping Caribbean nations refurbish and expand refineries as part of the agreement.
While Chavez's relationship with Washington has grown increasingly tense, Venezuela has sought to decrease its reliance on a network of U.S. refineries and has turned to the Caribbean for future investment.
"We're going to have the refinery in Cienfuegos (Cuba) activated at the end of this year," Ramirez said. Venezuela is investing US$83 million (euro61 million) to rehabilitate the Soviet-era refinery in the southern coastal city.
Ramirez also noted progress in expanding Jamaica's Petrojam oil refinery, and said engineering work is under way for a proposed refinery in Dominica.
Caribbean countries have saved US$437 million (euro320 million) on their oil bills as a result of participating in the program, Ramirez said.
Officials said the Central American nation of Nicaragua also plans to join the Petrocaribe program.


Updated : 2021-10-21 14:13 GMT+08:00