Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, on a visit to Beijing, has said he hopes to massively increase the amount of oil his country sells to China. The left-wing Chavez, who is a strong critic of Washington, is looking to reduce Venezuela’s reliance on sales to the United States. Venezuela currently ships 1.5 million barrels of oil a day to the US and about 150,000 barrels a day to China. Chavez said by 2009, they will be supplying China with half a million barrels a day and in the decade after that it will be one million barrels.
Industry analysts said it does not make economic sense to transport oil all the way from South America to China, but there are geopolitical considerations as Chavez wants to expand his buyer base and China is keen to diversify its purchases away from the Middle East. Venezuela has announced plans to buy 18 Chinese-made oil tankers and 24 oil drilling rigs. There is also to be a joint venture between the two countries to explore for oil in Venezuela.