Venezuela State Oil Company to Open First Asia Office in China

Published: Aug 20, 2005

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuela's state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. will open an office in China in the coming days, the firm's first in Asia, officials said.

The plan for an office in Beijing was announced Friday at the close of an investment conference held by the state oil company commonly known as PDVSA.

"We will open the office this coming week to handle all business relations with China," said Eulogio Del Pino, a PDVSA director.

Del Pino said the two countries will gradually do more business together and the office would be a good way to manage the growing workload.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has promoted a closer relationship with China, India and other Asian countries in an effort to secure new markets for oil aside from its current No. 1 buyer, the United States.

Chavez has clashed repeatedly with U.S. officials, saying U.S. "imperialism" is a threat to the world and new ways need to be found to move toward socialism and help the poor.

PDVSA also recently opened an office in Cuba, a close Venezuelan ally. Officials have said the Havana office will coordinate PDVSA's oil business in the Caribbean region.

The South American country, meanwhile, also plans to expand its fleet of oil tankers so it can sell more crude to Asia and other faraway markets.

PDV Marina, an affiliate of PDVSA, plans to invest as much as US$2.2 billion (euro1.8 billion) during the next seven years to expand its fleet to 58 tankers, head of PDVSA shipping and sales Asdrubal Chavez said late Friday.

The company now owns 21 tankers that transport roughly 26 percent of Venezuela's crude production, Chavez said.

In the coming years, PDV Marina is scheduled to discard five of its oldest ships. The government hopes to build 42 new tankers in coming years so it can ship 45 percent of its crude production by 2012.

Venezuela plans to sign deals with shipbuilding companies in Spain, Brazil, China and Argentina to build the new fleet. Venezuela recently signed a deal for two tankers to be built in Argentina.

The country hopes to sell as much as 300,000 barrels a day to Asian countries, particularly China and India, by 2012, Chavez said. Venezuela currently ships roughly 50,000 barrels of oil a day to the region.