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Venezuela: Chávez wants private oil cash

Maverick leader opens arms to international and national investors.

President Hugo Chávez
Chávez: not making the neo-liberal mistake of separating the economy from society

President Hugo Chávez wants the private sector to invest $19.8 billion in Venezuela’s oil industry over the next six years as part of his government’s strategy to boost oil production. The sum requested is part of the $74 billion that Venezuela plans to invest in drilling and refining projects by 2012. The bulk of the funds will come from state-owned oil firm PDVSA, as Venezuela seeks to ease production pressures. The world’s fifth-biggest oil exporter has just signed a $2 billion deal to buy 100,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Russia until the end of the year as it faces a shortfall in production.

The investment will also be vital in helping to ease supply pressures in the world’s energy markets, although Chávez is downbeat about the prospects in the short term. “The world is going to enter an energy crisis,” he said during a two-hour speech in London last month. He added that the days of oil at $20 a barrel are long gone; instead he expects the price to continue to rise.

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