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Venezuela looks for oil partners in Iran, India and South America

After defeating the internal opposition in August recall vote, President Hugo Chavez opened the gates of country’s oil market – world’s fifth - to foreign investors. The two Asian nations started ahead.

Having survived a recall attempt last month by winning 58 percent of the vote in a nationwide referendum, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez says he plans to deepen "the revolutionary process." According to reports from Caracas, Chavez is ready to open the strategic oil market –world’s fifth- to foreign companies and state owned enterprises from South America.

Last week, Venezuela has offered Indian Oil Videsh Limited (OVL) a share in five oil fields for exploration and production. This is the first time it has offered oil concessions to a foreign company, outside the international tendering procedure.

Venezuela has emerged as India’s newest oil supplier. Between the Athabasca sands and Venezuelan Orinoco basin, there is more recoverable oil (with current technology) than all of the Middle East. Venezuela has emerged as India’s newest oil supplier. Between the Athabasca sands and Venezuelan Orinoco basin, there is more recoverable oil (with current technology) than all of the Middle East.

At the same time, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh and Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jesus Arnold Perez were discussing in a meeting in Teheran ways of bolstering oil cooperation between the two countries.

A report released by the Public Relations Department of Iran’s Oil Ministry said that in the meeting, Zanganeh congratulated Perez on the victory of President Hugo Chavez in the recent Venezuelan referendum and referred to Venezuela as a friendly country in view of following policies quite similar to those of Iran, as a member of OPEC.

"Iran has offered any possible assistance to Venezuela as a friendly country under the most difficult situations," he added. Turning to the growing trend of the oil industry, he announced Iran’s readiness for bolstering of bilateral relations in various economic, industrial and technological fields, in particular in oil, gas and petrochemical sectors.

Chavez, who sees regional support to his “democratic revolution” decisive, fuels an ambitious power integration programme, which comprises state owned energy corporations from Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina –and Mexico, eventually- as a way to secure independent energy supplying in Latin America.

Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela signed recently the “energy chart”, which calls for the regional integration of the power system. Mexico said it would consider adhering the initiative, as well as Bolivia, Uruguay and Chile.

With the above in mind, it becomes clear that Venezuela sees in its vast and strategic oil resources, a key instrument to develop a more active diplomacy within the third world.

Hernan Etchaleco

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