Venezuela buys 25% stake in Antigua oil company
Venezuela announced Saturday that its state-owned oil company will buy a 25 per cent stake in West Indies Oil Company and that it will establish a regional bank with the Antigua & Barbuda government to fund a new resort.
The announcement came during a visit to Antigua by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who was on a whirlwind weekend Caribbean tour that included stops at three other nations - Suriname, St Lucia and Grenada. He was meeting with their leaders to discuss economic and social development initiatives.
Venezuelan officials said the regional bank would finance the new Simon Bolivar Resort Hotel and other development projects using resources generated by the PetroCaribe program, which provides low-cost oil financing to Caribbean and Central American countries and invests in social development projects.
Just the beginning
Executives at Venezuela's state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, said the purchase of a stake in West Indies Oil Company was just the beginning of "joint investments" between the countries.
The Caribbean nations visited by Maduro are members of the PetroCaribe programme, which critics say has lost effectiveness with the drop in oil prices. Last March, Barclays analysts estimated Venezuela had cut the program's daily oil shipments in half, to 200,000 barrels from 400,000.
Maduro defended the programme Saturday, saying Venezuela is looking to increase cooperation with its Caribbean neighbours.
"PetroCaribe is a reality and it is our starting point, our foundation to build a powerful economic zone," Maduro said.
Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that he and Maduro "agreed to work in various areas of cooperation".