|Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız on Tuesday said that his ministry would like to take part in Venezuela’s oil production.|
Yıldız arrived in the Latin American country’s capital Caracas on Tuesday to meet with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro Moros. He said Turkey is willing to support the South American country’s oil production.
According to the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, the country plans to discuss providing oil to Turkey in exchange for funding for housing and other infrastructure projects needed after devastating floods hit the country in December of last year. “This visit will let us discuss energy projects with a focus on Venezuela exchanging oil for funding for housing and infrastructure projects, areas where Turkey has made important achievements,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Yıldız is also expected to visit the giant Orinoco extra heavy crude belt as part of his visit. In November, Hugo Chavez’s government said Turkey had agreed to invest in the area, seen as one of the biggest, largely untapped crude oil reserves left in the world.
Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) President Mehmet Uysal is also accompanying Yıldız on his visit. In remarks made during a dinner Moros hosted for the Turkish delegation, he said Venezuela currently produces 3 million barrels of oil a day. “We can reach the daily oil production of Saudi Arabia by increasing production to 7-8 million barrels per day,” he said.
Uysal’s TPAO has been engaged in dynamic oil and natural gas exploration, particularly in Central Asian, North African and Middle Eastern countries.
Turkey imports about 95 percent of the crude oil it consumes, and since 2007 it has sought to boost ties with Latin American countries to explore for oil and gas.
A recent statement released by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) said 3,500 Turkish companies had as of October 2010 invested $23.6 billion in 103 countries around the world. According to the ATO, the overseas sector Turkish entrepreneurs invested in the most was energy, taking up almost $4 billion of the total amount. TPAO investments in Central Asian nations before 2010 accounted for most of this $4 billion, the chamber added.
Moros also spoke during the dinner and noted that Turkey had left a good impression on Venezuelan authorities, adding that his country is ready to sign a business protocol with Turkey. He said Venezuela is very rich in oil and natural gas reserves. The country recently discovered new reserves of oil in the Orinoco heavy crude region amounting to 330-350 billion barrels.
Moros said they had already started to pump the oil by dividing the heavy crude belt into smaller regions and tendering it out to international companies. An example of this is Venezuela’s partnership with China.
Venezuela will sell 1 million barrels of oil to China per day in four years’ time. “Aside from Chinese oil companies, there are also international companies from India, Italy and France that are looking for oil in our country,” he stated.
Moros also underlined that they found large natural gas reserves near the country’s coast. “We have signed an agreement with Russia’s Gazprom to extract this gas. Venezuela has the world’s fifth largest gas reserves,” he said.
More oil reserves than Saudi ArabiaA few days ago, Chavez’s government said Venezuela had overtaken Saudi Arabia as the world leader in oil reserves, with certified deposits leaping to 297 billion barrels at the end of 2010. Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez told Reuters last weekend that the new reserves, which pushed the total 41 percent higher than the previous year, were booked in the vast Orinoco extra heavy crude belt. A jubilant Chavez told parliament that Venezuela’s reserves now surpassed those of Saudi Arabia. “We have enough for 200 years,” he said. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said Saudi Arabia’s reserves stood at 265 billion barrels in 2009. Saudi Arabia’s advantage is that its oil is mostly light, conventional, easily pumped crude, while the Orinoco deposits are extra heavy tar-like sour crude that must be upgraded or mixed with a lighter grade to create an exportable blend.