VENEZUELA & RUSSIA INVESTMENT: $14 BLN
Venezuela and Russia's top oil producer, Rosneft, have agreed on around $14 billion in investment in the South American OPEC country's oil and gas sector, President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday evening.
Maduro said he met with the chief executive of state-owned Rosneft, Igor Sechin, earlier on Wednesday, in the company of PDVSA [PDVSA.UL] President Eulogio del Pino and National Assembly boss and Socialist Party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello.
"We had a great meeting and agreed on investment of over $14 billion," said Maduro during a televised broadcast, adding the funds would go toward doubling Venezuela's oil production.
PDVSA has formal ambitious targets to double national production to 6 million barrels a day by 2019, with 4 million of that projected to come from the Orinoco Belt, but few industry experts or foreign investors expect those goals to be met.
Speaking at a Socialist Party event broadcast on state television, Maduro did not provide a breakdown of the investment plan, and it remained unclear who would fund it.
PDVSA and the Venezuelan Oil Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for details. It was not immediately possible to contact Rosneft.
Fresh investment would be a boon for cash-strapped Venezuela, which is seeking to ramp up oil output to counter an economic crisis and the recent tumble in oil prices.
Russia was also tipped into crisis by last year's sharp drop in oil prices, which was compounded by Western sanctions for the annexation of Crimea and alleged support for rebels in eastern Ukraine, causing sharp falls in the value of the rouble currency.
Rosneft and PDVSA signed a new contract for supplies of oil and oil products of Venezuelan production, the Russian company said in November. The document envisages the supplies of over 1.6 million tonnes of oil and 9 million tonnes of oil products to Rosneft within five years.
PDVSA said on Twitter the two countries on Wednesday had agreed to "create companies together" to boost crude production, adding both nations want to expand crude extraction in the oil-rich Orinoco Belt, where Rosneft already has joint ventures with PDVSA.
The Venezuelan company said in a statement later on Wednesday Rosneft had proposed increasing its stake in the Petromonagas joint venture from the current 16.7 percent to reach 40 percent, the maximum allowed for a foreign partner in oil joint ventures in the South American country.
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U.S. EIA - Venezuela holds the largest oil reserves in the world, in large part because of the heavy oil reserves in the Orinoco Oil Basin. In addition to oil reserves, Venezuela has sizeable natural gas reserves, although the development of natural gas lags significantly behind that of oil. However, in the wake of political and economic instability in the country, crude oil production has dramatically decreased, reaching a multi-decades low in mid-2018.
U.S. BEA - The U.S. current-account deficit increased to $124.1 billion (preliminary) in the first quarter of 2018 from $116.1 billion (revised) in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The deficit was 2.5 percent of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter, up from 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
WNN - There are 126 operational power reactors in 14 EU Member States, providing more than one-quarter of the bloc's total electricity production. In its Communication on the Nuclear Illustrative Program (PINC) published last year, the European Commission expects nuclear to maintain its significant role in Europe's energy mix up to 2050. This would require investment of some EUR40-50 billion (USD46-58 billion) in nuclear LTO by 2050.
REUTERS - Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 was up 50 cents at $75.58 a barrel by 0835 GMT. U.S. light crude CLc1 was 50 cents higher at $65.57.