Venezuela promises to provide preferential crude for Caribbean countries

Venezuela has promised to supply 190,300 barrels of crude a day in preferential conditions for 11 Caribbean nations under an initiative for energy security in the region, the local press reported Thursday.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made the commitment during a meeting with Caribbean leaders on Tuesday in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where the PetroCaribe initiative was signed.

In accordance with the initiative, the country will supply 77,300 barrels of crude and by-products a day to Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.

Moreover, Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil producer, will provide 92,000 barrels of oil for Cuba and 21,000 for Jamaica a day.

Under the agreement, the beneficiaries have to pay a minimum of 50 percent of the shipments of Venezuelan oil within 90 days and the rest will be financed in up to 25 years, with an annual interest rate of 2.0 percent.

If oil prices surpass 50 US dollars per barrel, the interest will be reduced by one percent, according to the financing conditions of the PetroCaribe initiative.

Venezuela's state-run petroleum company PDVSA said the agreement will allow Caribbean nations to save up to six dollars per barrel of crude or its by-products.

The Venezuelan government said PetroCaribe, defined as an institution to work out energy policies and plans, is aimed at the integration of Caribbean nations.

"The region has chances to advance little by little ... to have greater strength and move towards the prosperity," Chavez told Caribbean leaders.

PetroCaribe is part of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a program launched by Chavez to contend with the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) proposed by the United States.

It will have an executive secretariat and a ministerial council, composed of representatives from its member countries, which will hold a meeting every year.

Source: Xinhua

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