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Chavez urges Russia to expand business presence in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday he would like to see Russian business expand its presence in his country, especially in the oil and gas sector. 

“We are satisfied with the presence of Russian oil companies in Venezuela and will do all we can to ensure that this cooperation develops successfully,” he told a meeting with Russian business circles at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Chavez, on a two-day visit to Russia, met with President Vladimir Putin Thursday and attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Moscow's Bolivar center, named after the South American revolutionary leader he says is his main inspiration. He said new oil deposits were discovered in Venezuela, estimated at 300 billion barrels of crude. “These are huge reserves, much greater than in Saudi Arabia,” he said. Chavez said Venezuela could build four new oil refineries soon, although the country needs at least 13 refineries to meet domestic demand and export to other countries. He said Venezuela also counts on broadening cooperation with Russia in the natural gas sector, adding that his country's gas reserves exceed 200 trillion cubic meters.

Chavez asked Russian companies to help Venezuela develop its oil and natural gas sectors, build liquefied gas plants, petrochemical production facilities, and modernize and build new seaports. He said Venezuela currently imports $5 billion worth of oil equipment, adding that there is a pressing need to set up new joint ventures to produce such equipment in Venezuela. Chavez said he issued a formal invitation to Putin to visit Venezuela, but did not say whether Putin accepted it, nor indicated a possible timeframe for the visit. During his meeting with Putin, Chavez using his trademark anti-US rhetoric, stressed the importance of defying Washington's dominance of global affairs, including cultural. “The empire must understand that it cannot dominate the world,” Chavez said. (rian.ru)