Venezuela denies Russian oil purchase

Venezuela denied recent claims that it was purchasing oil from Russia to avert defaulting on international supply contracts amid declining production.

The Financial Times reported last week that state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, struck a US$2 billion ( Ђ 1.59 billion) deal with Russia to buy some 100,000 barrels of oil a day until the end of the year to meet its obligations as it faced a shortfall in production.

Luis Vierma, PDVSA's vice president of exploration and production, told reporters on Thursday that Venezuela has traditionally bought Russian crude to supply its Ruhr Oel refinery in Germany and said the arrangement had nothing to do with declining production.

"Buying crude from Russia is nothing new," he said on the sidelines of an oil industry conference in Houston, Texas.

Vierma said the report was "totally false" and added that oil production was currently about 3.4 million barrels a day.

Oil analysts and international agencies have estimated that Venezuela produces about 2.6 million barrels of oil a day, down from nearly 3.3 million barrels a day before a crippling oil strike beginning in late 2002 aimed at ousting President Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela, a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, reports the AP.


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