(L) Igor Ivanovich Sechin, CEO of Rosneft and (R) Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s energy minister
The Russians are back in Caracas, but bearing no sweet little black terrier puppies (or similar) from Vladimir Putin for Hugo Chávez this time – not least because he’s not really around to receive gifts.
Although the high-level delegation is ostensibly visiting to attend to business, including major oil investments in the Orinoco Belt, they must also be acutely curious to know what’s up with Venezuela’s ailing leader.
The Russians are doing their bit to help with Hugo Chávez’s re-election. Despite the all-too-evident problems in Venezuela’s oil industry – exploding refineries is just one of them – the start of early production at an oil project in the Orinoco Belt a little more than a week before presidential elections seems aimed at convincing voters that things are going well.
But that’s not all: Russia is also stepping up investment in the Orinoco, with state-controlled oil company Rosneft signing a deal on Thursday to participate in a major new project. As if that wasn’t enough, Vladimir Putin even gave Chávez a three-month-old black terrier puppy.
Amistad is a nice word. It means friendship in Spanish. Now it seems Ecuador has found a new friend for its oil sector: Russia’s Gazprom.
The Ecuadorean government has signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the energy giant to explore the Amistad natural-gas field in the Gulf of Guayaquil, in the coastal south of the country. “Gazprom wants to explore natural gas in all offshore available areas,” Jorge Glas, Ecuador’s minister of strategic sectors, said late last week.
Legend goes that oil and gas used to bubble up to the surface around the green river hamlets of the western territory of what today is Paraguay. The Guaraní indigenous tribes used it for curative purposes, as well as to light their fires and perform rituals. Years later, the Paraguayans are still looking for that treasure trove.
But now they seem to have a new – and quite inconspicuous – ally to help them with the search: Russia’s Gazprom. The energy giant has expressed interest in carrying out exploration work in Paraguay and, if reserves are found, forming a joint venture with the state run-energy company, Petropar.