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The minister of Energy and Mining, and president of the Venezuelan state owned oil corporation Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa), Rafael Ramírez denied that Venezuela is exchanging oil for weapons. This allegation involves the countries that recently signed cooperation agreements with Venezuela, like Russia, which paradoxically is one of the world’s greatest oil producers.

Ramírez explained that during the meeting between presidents Hugo Chávez and Vladimir Putin, the only cooperation agreements subscribed were related to issues like the exchange of technological know-how and of information about markets and strategies.

He pointed out that our country “is determined to improve the positioning of its oil” in the international market, and to preserve and improve its situation with the U.S., since “it is our traditional client”.

As an example, he mentioned the set of negotiations with China, through which “Venezuela is exporting to that country important volumes of fuel oil”. The minister asserted that Venezuela has also forged ahead on orimulsion projects, and on the proposal of oil and gas pipelines through Colombia, in order to have an outlet to the Pacific ocean. “This is possible, and we are working to achieve it” . He also mentioned that Pdvsa has reduced its foreign debt from 8 billion to 4 billion U$.

When asked about the negotiations with the U$, Ramírez said that for many years, Venezuela “has been losing much money with Citgo, especially because of the supply agreements subscribed by this company, that include discounts of up to 2 U$ per barrel”. The minister affirmed that the possibility of selling part of the organisation and of redefining negotiations with some European countries is being considered.

Pdvsa supplied the state with 14 trillion.

Ramírez asserted that so far, Pdvsa has provided the state with 14.4 trillion bolívares (about 7.5 billion U$ at the current exchange rate of 1920 bolívares per dollar) apart from the 1.8 billion dollars from the reserves.

He pointed out that these resources form part of an endogenous development plan (development from within), that will foster other productive activities in the country.

He said that the purpose is to encourage “productive activities that are different from the extraction of mineral resources”, with the participation of Pdvsa, in order to employ people for endogenous development projects linked to agricultural development, and to relocate the population. The Venezuelan oil industry, he said, can not absorb all of the work force, “that is a fact”. He added that at present, Pdvsa has the capacity to hire 44,000 workers, and that 40,000 are already hired.

As for the restructuring process, Ramírez did not discard the existence of corruption within the country’s main corporation, and pointed out that “we are working to reorganise Pdvsa and to make of it a transparent industry”.

Published in Quantum N.43