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News // Middle East and OPEC

Venezuela Welcomes China to Build Drilling Rigs

24 August 2006 , 13:18631
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in China this week to bolster his country`s oil sales in the Far East, part of his comprehensive plan to reduce his country`s dependency on sales of oil to the United States.

The outspoken Chavez is also set to finalize a deal with Beijing for the construction of 24 drilling rigs in Venezuela and the purchase 18 oil tankers with a $1.8 billion price tag to transport crude from the South American nation.

He is also scheduled to visit Angola and Malaysia during this trip.

Last month Chavez said that Venezuela would like to increase oil sales to China to 300,000 barrels a day by the end of the year. Other officials in Venezuela said the increase would reach 200,000 bpd, up from the 150,000 bpd it currently sends.

'It looks like a modest number yet, but we began from scratch,' Chavex said.

He was accompanied by Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez.

Since assuming office in 1998, Chavez has courted China and other alternative markets like India and even recently expressed willingness to sell fuel to North Korea. He has also cultivated closer ties with Iran, drawing sharp criticism from Washington and increased concerns about the foreign policy leanings of the Venezuelan president.

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