Caracas: Venezuela and Russia have signed a new round of energy-cooperation deals, including an agreement to create a new joint venture between Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA and Russia's Rosneft.
The deals inked Thursday also include a loan from Rosneft that will help finance PDVSA's participation in the new venture - known as Petro Victoria - to develop the Carabobo 2 field, which is located in the massive Orinoco heavy-oil belt in eastern Venezuela.
Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela's oil minister and also PDVSA's CEO, and Rosneft's top executive, Igor Sechin, signed the accord creating Petro Victoria and the loan deal.
"We have many new projects in the future that undoubtedly will bring benefits for the peoples of Venezuela and Russia," Sechin said.
Russia and Venezuela also agreed to create joint companies to provide construction services for the oil industry and other sectors and a 300 MW power plant fed by petroleum coke from the Orinoco belt.
In another deal, Russian firm Gazprom was formally incorporated into exploration work in the Urdaneta offshore gas project. Spain's Repsol and Italy's Eni have been jointly operating that project - one of the largest natural gas reserves in the Americas - during the exploration phase.
PDVSA has the right to take a stake during the project's development stage.
Separately, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hailed the start of production at a heavy oil deposit by a joint venture made up of PDVSA and a consortium of Russian firms.
"What occurred (Thursday) is historic," Chavez told reporters, noting that oil extracted from the Petromiranda field marked the first time a Russian firm has tapped oil in Latin America.
Early Thursday, the Petromiranda JV began operating in the Orinoco belt, a project Ramirez said he expects will produce 45,000 barrels per day in 12 months.
"We're moving forward like (Russian president) Vladimir Putin says," Chavez said.
"It's been 10 years of intense work in pursuit of our interests. The moment arrived in which Russia had to free itself from that terrible era after the fall of the Soviet Union," Chavez added, referring to bilateral cooperation in different areas.
"Relations that are more solid every day," he said, hailing Moscow's assistance in the scientific and economic areas and its "tremendous support" in enhancing Venezuela's operational and logistical capacity in security and defense.
First Published: Saturday, September 29, 2012, 13:51