Caracas, Venezuela (VA) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro set out for a diplomatic tour of Vietnam and China over the weekend, and plans to meet tomorrow in Beijing with Russian president Vladimir Putin to discuss possible steps for stabilizing oil prices.
On Monday morning, Vietnamese president Truong Tan Sang met with Maduro in Hanoi to sign a bilateral agreement relating to agriculture, gas and petroleum projects.
Vietnam’s state oil and gas group PetroVietnam is a 40 percent partner with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA in the heavy oil project in the Orinoco belt, Junin 2.
Later that day, the Venezuelan president arrived in China to sign a deal aimed at boosting oil output from the OPEC nation.
“A loan worth US$5 billion has been signed with China in order to increase oil production progressively during the next months,” Maduro said during a broadcast from the Venezuelan embassy in Beijing.
The loan may stipulate the hiring of Chinese companies, a source from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA told Reuters.
Venezuela currently produces 2.8 million barrels of oil per day, 700,000 of which are shipped to China, the president said.
Venezuela is the eighth-largest oil supplier to China, who in turn is the South American nation’s largest creditor.
The Asian nation has loaned Venezuela US$46 billion over the last eight years, with US$24 billion already paid back.
China approved a refinancing of Venezuela’s loans late last year when the price of crude oil began to tumble.
According to Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov, Russian president Vladimir Putin will be meeting up with Maduro in Beijing to discuss “possible mutual steps” to stem sliding oil prices.
With crude at a six-year low, Russia and Venezuela’s economies have contracted significantly, granted their foreign earnings depend nearly 50% and 96% on oil, respectively.
Still, many analysts maintain that Russia, which vies with Saudi Arabia as top global oil producer, will resist cutting production for fear of losing market share.
The Russian and Venezuelan leaders are among the delegates from 30 nations who will travel to China this week to celebrate the defeat of invading Japanese forces 70 years ago.