Venezuela promises to help US achieve national energy security

Jul 27, 2001 02:00 AM

A Venezuelan energy delegation was in Washington, pursuing a long-term comprehensive energy strategy "in harmony" with President George W. Bush's plans to increase energy production in the US. Warning against becoming "distracted" by short-term price changes -- such as OPEC's decision to cut production -- Ignacio Arcaya, Venezuela's ambassador to the US, laid out his country's plans in Houston and promised to help the US achieve "national energy security".
Venezuela, he said, supports Mr Bush's vision of hemispheric integration. "The countries in this half of the world can count upon the necessary resources to satisfy most of their energy requirements if they work as a whole in an integrated, complementary manner." His country exports 57 % of its oil and oil products to the US, and it is preparing to invest about $ 26.5 bn to increase production capacity -- but not necessarily production -- substantially by 2006. It is upgrading its Orinoco oil belt operations to produce 600,000 bpd of light, low-sulphur, synthetic crude.
Caracas also hopes to fill part of the gap in US refining capacity, opened by varying state and city environmental requirements for fuel. Citgo, part of PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, will increase capacity at its Lake Charles, Louisiana, refinery by 100,000 bpd.

The Venezuelan team, led by Bernado Alvarez, vice-minister for energy, is promoting its new legal framework for energy, which permits foreign investment in gas exploration and production. It has a new LNG project targeted for the US, for which it is seeking investment.
Vital to expanded investment, however, is completion of a bilateral investment treaty. Technical meetings will be held in Washington to advance that effort. The team is urging expansion of port facilities on the Gulf of Mexico, particularly to handle the import of LNG.
It is also promoting its patented Orimulsion bitumen fuel for electric power generation. Its introduction was rejected in Florida when environmental and tourism officials expressed concerns about the difficulty of cleaning up spillages.

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