Venezuela, Russia agree to bolster oil, investment ties

Venezuela, Russia agree to bolster oil, investment ties

Venezuela and Russia Wednesday agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation and Russian investment in the South American nation's petroleum industry.

At a meeting between Vice President Nicolas Maduro and a Russian business delegation headed by Igor Sechin, president of Russia's state-owned oil company Rosneft, Maduro said the leaders of the two countries, Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez, have strengthened bilateral relations through their joint efforts.

Among the accords signed is a significant investment in Venezuela's Orinoco Oil Belt, one of the world's largest hydrocarbon reserves, to boost oil extraction from current 230,000 barrels of oil per day to 930,000 bpd in the next few years. Russia's investment is estimated to be 46.9 billion U.S. dollars.

The two sides also agreed to establish a Russian-Venezuelan drill-manufacturing company.

Maduro said Putin has worked with Chavez to deepen their strategic alliance for the benefit of their two countries, and to promote balance of power and world peace ever since he was Russia' s deputy prime minister.

He also thanked the Russian people for the solidarity they have expressed for ailing Chavez as he struggles to recover from a fourth cancer operation in December in Havana.

A the end of March, a high-level binational committee will meet in Caracas to evaluate the progress of the agreements between the two nations, said Maduro.

Venezuela's state-run VTV aired the meeting between Maduro and the Russian delegation, which arrived here Tuesday to sign the energy agreements with Venezuelan authorities, including Foreign Minister Elias Jaua and Oil and Mining Minister Rafael Rodriguez, who is also President of Venezuela's state-owned oil company Petroleum of Venezuela.

Venezuela and Russia have strong political and trade ties in such fields as construction, agriculture, finance, military technology, and gas and petroleum.