CARACAS -- President Hugo Chavez said oil and gas deals he recently signed with the Chinese, part of a strategy to reduce his country's reliance on US export markets, will boost trade with the Asian country to nearly $3 billion next year.
Speaking to reporters yesterday after his return from a five-day visit to Beijing, Chavez said the trip brought "great results" for Venezuela.
The agreements allow Chinese companies to explore for oil, set up refineries, and produce natural gas in the South American country, officials said earlier.
Chinese companies intend to invest $350 million in 15 oil fields in eastern Venezuela and $60 million in natural gas projects, Chavez said yesterday. Venezuela will receive $250 million next year from China for fuel oil exports, Chavez said.
China is eager to secure new sources of energy for its booming economy, which is struggling with power shortages. Venezuela wants to find new customers to reduce its reliance on the United States, its number one market but also a critic of Chavez's government.
Meanwhile, Chavez said Venezuela will also buy a satellite from China. He didn't give details, but last week Information Minister Andres Izarra told the state news agency Venpres that within a year the satellite would be in orbit to fill Venezuela's communication needs and would give the country "full sovereignty" in telecommunications.
He also said the Venezuelan government will acquire Chinese radar to improve security along its borders. The South American country already has announced measures to tighten control over its border with Colombia.