The CEO of Russian state-owned oil company ROSNEFT, Igor Ivanovich Sechin (L) greets Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua, during a meeting in Caracas on January 29, 2013. (AFP Photo / Juan Barreto) The Russian energy company Rosneft plans to deepen its cooperation with Venezuela and invest $10 billion to the country’s oil and gas projects. Russian and Venezuelan officials have signed a deal covering offshore natural gas and oil projects and have agreed to create joint service and drilling ventures. Oil production in the projects with Russian participation could reach 50 million tonnes per year, Chief Executive of Rosneft, Igor Sechin said on Wednesday. Rosneft’s share of that would be around 15 million tonnes, he said.Venezuelan oil reserves amount to 300 billion barrels. Along with Rosneft, a number of other Russian companies operate in Venezuela’s energy sector including Gazprom, Lukoil and Surgutneftegaz. They take part in five production projects, including the Junin-6 and Caraboo-2 oil blocks. Rosneft is also going to acquire TNK-BP’s 16.7% of stake in PetroMonagas, a joint venture of TNK-BP and Venezuelan state-owned company PDVSA. Rosneft is also interested in Venezuela offshore projects. “We’ve agreed with PDVSA to look into additional offshore sections in addition to the five existing oil projects,” Igor Sechin said.Russian and Venezuelan companies will jointly invest nearly $46 billion in the South American country’s energy sector with Russia investing $17 billion, Venezuelan Oil Minister and head of PDVSA, Rafael Ramirez estimated. “This is turning the group of Russian companies into key foreign partners for Venezuela,” Ramirez said on Wednesday. Rosneft announced plans to further expand its investment activities the day after Ramirez dismissed the news on foreign companies holding off their investments in the country’s oil projects due to President Chavez’ health concerns. Rosneft’s Sechin said he was confident the Russian investment in Venezuela would be safeguarded, despite the illness of the country’s leader. ”We’ve no doubt our investments will be protected. We’re convinced our projects will be delivered over the long-term and that outside factors will not affect them,” he said.The possibility Venezuela will revise its contracts with international companies, come a new leader, is relatively low, Grigory Birg, chief analyst at Investcafe, said. The country possesses enormous reserves of crude oil, which it will not be able to develop without financial help and expertise of international companies, he explained.
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