PetroCaribe worries - Golding hopeful Venezuela may scale back proposal for more oil money up front
Published: Friday | August 14, 2009
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP):
Jamaica's prime minister said Thursday he is hopeful Venezuela may scale back a proposal to require more money up front from nations buying oil on preferential terms under its PetroCaribe programme.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding said he believes President Hugo Chavez's government will be sympathetic to nations like Jamaica that are reeling from the global recession and reconsider a proposal that members pay at least 80 per cent of the cost of oil up front. The changes would also reduce the amount that could be paid off with long-term loans at low interest rates, he said.
Jamaica's economy has been hurt by a drop in tourism and reduced demand for bauxite, a key ingredient in aluminium that is Jamaica's main export. The country purchased about US$1.9 billion of Venezuelan oil last year under PetroCaribe - an average of about 21,200 barrels per day, according to Sharon Weber, manager of the country's PetroCaribe Development Fund.
Golding said talks with PetroCaribe members have been ongoing since Venezuela proposed the changes in June, but he declined to divulge any details, including whether the Chavez government has offered any new proposals to the 18 nations in the PetroCaribe agreement.
Venezuela's state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA declined requests for comment, referring questions to Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, who wasn't available.
The prime minister said Jamaica would likely remain a member of PetroCaribe regardless of the outcome.