Monday, June 23, 2008

Venezuela's PDVSA and China's CNPC to cooperate in the production of 8 new oil rigs -- annually

I am intrigued, as usual, by the fact I am only able to find a few sources in English which have covered the recent development in Sino-Venezuelan cooperation. I suppose this is one of the main reasons I started this site-- to share developments in the works between China and South America, which go largely unnoticed in the West.

As described in a recent article published by BNAmericas, Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA (Petroleos de Venezuela S.A) and China's state oil company CNPC (China National Petroleum), have entered into a joint venture in which the two government owned oil conglomerates will work together in order to produce 8 new oil rigs by years end in Venezuela.

This adds to the two oil rigs delivered by CNPC in November 2007, and three more to come in 2009, bringing the total number of "made in China" oil rigs operating in Venezuela to 13. This will also allow Venezuela's PDVSA, for the first time in the country's history to construct their own oil rigs domestically... without North American or European assistance.

Don't get too excited... This it is not major sign of political or economic unity between the two nations. At least, not on the level Venezuelan state media is reporting it to be. Want proof?

Chinese media has virtually ignored this development, as they usually do with most things concerning Venezuela. China does not want to attract the attention of the US or Europe by dealing too closely with Chavez.

The most recent article published by China's state media, Xinhua, I can find on this subject (in either Chinese or English), is dated May 13, 2008.

Granted my reading ability in Chinese is far from perfect, however searching the words "petrol," and "Venezuela" can usually lead me in the right direction and allow me to find a story pertaining to the topic I am searching for. From what I am able to comprehend in this Chinese article from May, I personally do not feel it is directly related to the deal discussed on June 23, 2008 on BNAmerica's website.

Chavez would like to consider China a strategic ally, both on a political and economic level. As the world's second largest consumer of energy, the match seems to fit... Too bad for Chavez its quite costly to ship Venezuela's heavy, dirty crude oil all the way to China.

Second, Chavez has unrealistically already raised China's economic position and importance for his country right next to the spot the US still occupies. This is hardly feasible to imagine considering Venezuela and China's geographic locations.

Third, Venezuela's trade with China is inconsequential compared with Venezuela's trade with the US.

Fourth, when you compare China's trade with other Latin American nations, Venezuela's trade is insignificant when compared with China's current trade with other nations such as Brazil, Chile or Argentina.

Last, and perhaps Hugo's biggest mistake, is thinking China would be willing to extend it self to a country which is not only in the "back yard" of the US, but also a country which currently is not on good terms with US. Chinese culture, tradition and history have shown the Chinese have a tendency to avoid potential problems that could threaten "peace" or "stability," and a more significant relationship with with Venezuela would therefore be risky.

China has no interest in antagonizing the US, which remains China's major trading partner in the global economy. For now, China's outbound investments will be focused in projects such as the one discussed above. PDVSA will retain a 85% stake in the project, leaving 15% to CNPC. Total investment is projected to be roughly $430 million usd.

Quite small, when you consider for China's new sovereign wealth fund has about $300 billion usd sitting in reserve, waiting to be invested.

**Useful hint for readers **

It is easy to translate English words into Chinese characters without a pinyin input system using this great Chinese-English online dictionary / translator ( After you find the characters for the key words you're looking for use "ctrl + f" or "apple key + f (for mac os)," to search for them in a article. Petrol = 汽油 (qi you) , Venezuela = 委内瑞拉 (wei nei rui la).