VENEZUELA & RUSSIA AGREE
Venezuela and Russia have reached an agreement to step up investment and participation of Russian companies in development of Orinoco Belt oil reserves and other projects, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, writes TASS.
The press service of the Venezuelan presidential administration cited the president as saying the step was part of a plan to protect the oil market and strengthen the strategic alliance with Russia in the energy sector.
An agreement was also reached on investments in equipment to extract and refine oil.
Venezuela produces three 3 million barrels of oil a day and exports 2.5 million, mainly to the United States and China. It is the world's fifth oil exporter. The country's oil reserves are estimated at almost 300 billion barrels. Most of the reserves are in the Orinoco Belt.
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BP and its partners in Azerbaijan's giant ACG oil production complex agreed Thursday to extend the production sharing contract by 25 years to 2049 and to increase the stake of state-owned SOCAR, reducing the size of their own shares.
The U.S. current-account deficit increased to $123.1 billion (preliminary) in the second quarter of 2017 from $113.5 billion (revised) in the first quarter of 2017, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The deficit increased to 2.6 percent of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) from 2.4 percent in the first quarter.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were trading up 41 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $50.30 by 0852 GMT, near the three-month high of $50.50 it reached last Thursday. Brent crude futures LCOc1, the benchmark for oil prices outside the United States, were at $55.91 a barrel, up 29 cents, and also not far from the near five-month high of $55.99 touched on Thursday.
“The principal risk regarding Russian and Chinese activities in Venezuela in the near term is that they will exploit the unfolding crisis, including the effect of US sanctions, to deepen their control over Venezuela’s resources, and their [financial] leverage over the country as an anti-US political and military partner,” observed R. Evan Ellis, a senior associate in the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Americas Program.