Caracas, April 30 (IANS/EFE) Japan and South Korea plan to invest nearly $14 billion in various energy projects in Venezuela, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said.
"In total between Japan and Korea we have investments for the country of $13.95 billion ... with the biggest companies in the world in the technology and petroleum sectors," Ramirez told the official VTV network by telephone Saturday from China.
Ramirez said he signed a series of agreements during a tour that has taken him to Japan, South Korea and China.
Agreements were signed with South Korea covering "four very important projects", including the design and construction of a deepwater terminal in the northeastern Venezuelan state of Sucre, infrastructure projects in the Orinoco Belt, technology for a refinery in Barinas state and coke-burning power plants, Ramirez said.
Coke is a solid by-product of heavy crude that is used in the iron and steel industry, thermoelectric power plants and cement production.
Four agreements were signed with Japan "that have to do with petroleum development" in Venezuela "associated with some $2.5 billion in financing", Ramirez said.
Venezuela is working with Japan on three 900 MW thermoelectric power plants, as well as on a technology cooperation agreement, the energy minister said.
Venezuela signed an agreement for a $1 billion loan with a Japanese state bank and other Japanese firms, with $800 million to be used to expand a refinery and the remaining $200 million going toward petroleum services, state-owned oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, said last week.
The loan agreement was signed during a meeting in Tokyo between Ramirez and Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano, PDVSA said in a statement released last Monday.
The cornerstone is in place for the joint financing of the construction of a refinery by PDVSA and China National Petroleum Corporation, the largest oil company in China, in the southern Chinese province of Canton, Ramirez said.
"We are going to have the capacity to process 400,000 barrels per day of crude from the Orinoco Petroleum Belt," Ramirez, who is also PDVSA's chief, said.
The Orinoco Belt, located in east-central Venezuela, is believed to hold the world's largest petroleum reserves, with proved and certified reserves totaling some 297 billion barrels.
Most of the oil, however, is heavy and extra-heavy crude that is more expensive to refine because it requires additional processing.
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