TOKYO, April 6 Japan and Venezuela agreed on
Monday on a broad cooperation to develop oil and gas projects in
the Latin American nation, deepening bilateral relations to help
diversify sources of energy for the resource-poor Asian country.
State-affiliate Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp
(JOGMEC), Inpex Corp and Mitsubishi Corp will pursue a joint
feasibility study with Venezuela on the Orinoco oil belt in the
next two years, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said at a signing
ceremony in Tokyo.
The oil belt may potentially have reserves of up to 6
billion barrels, and the ability to produce about 200,000
barrels per day, said Ramirez, who is also the head of the state
oil company PDVSA [PDVSA.UL].
Venezuela also agreed with four Japanese trading houses,
Mitsubishi, Itochu Corp, Mitsui & Co and Marubeni Corp, to begin
participating in the development of a gas field for liquefied
natural gas, Ramirez said.
If realised, it could allow much of the LNG to be brought
over to Japan beyond 2013, he said.
Separately, Venezuela signed a memorandum of understanding
with Japan Bank fo International Cooperation (JBIC), Mitsubishi
and Itochu for loans totalling $1.5 billion to finance the
upgrade of two refineries.
This follows a credit line of $3.5 billion opened in 2007.
The Venezuelan delegation, including President Hugo Chavez
and Ramirez, was visiting Tokyo on Monday.
PDVSA is struggling to pay providers and partners following
a tumble in oil prices over the last six months, and may need to
seek financing this year for new projects in the Orinoco belt.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, Yuko Inoue, James Topham; Writing
by Chikako Mogi)