Russian PM To Arrive In Venezuela On Official Visit

Russian Premier Mikhail Kasyanov will arrive in Venezuela on an official visit. This is the first time a Russian Premier visits this country. The Russian Premier will hold negotiations with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. They are expected to sign a number of bilateral documents. The situation on the oil market and possible ways to join efforts in order to stabilise oil prices are believed to be at the top of the agenda. According to sources in the Russian government, Russia is interested in oil and energy sectors of the Venezuelan economy. In particular, the Russian Slavneft and Transneft oil companies are negotiating the construction of oil pipelines, as well as exploration and processing of new oil fields. Venezuela is ranking second in the OPEC in terms of oil production (130 million tons per year.) The country is planning to double this figure by 2005. Venezuela has the highest rate of electrification (90%) in Latin America. The country's authorities have set the objective of increasing electricity output by 40% within 5-10 years. Russia is ready to offer its equipment for hydraulic power plants. Other possible spheres of bilateral cooperation are railway construction, building of tankers and fishing vessels, modernisation of the Venezuelan aircraft fleet, medicine production, bauxite production and modernisation of the Venezuelan aluminium industry, assembling of Russian tractors in Venezuela. Another promising project is the Russian participation in the creation of a satellite launch site in Venezuela. Military and technical cooperation is also a burning issue because Venezuela is planning to increase its military expenditures by $0.5B in 2002. The Russo-Venezuelan goods turnover doubled in 2000 compared to 1999, and comprised $100M. The total price of Venezuelan supplies (ore, concentrated aluminium, coffee) was $75M. Russia's exports included steel, fertilisers, steel-cutting machines, road construction equipment.

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