(MENAFN) Iran’s Oil Minister Javad Oji led a delegation to Caracas, Venezuela, on Thursday to strengthen energy cooperation with the Latin American country. During his trip, Oji will meet with Venezuelan political and economic authorities to develop activities and define new areas of cooperation in the upstream and downstream areas of the energy sector.

Iran and Venezuela have been expanding their cooperation in all areas over the past two years, with the Latin American country being one of the focal points of the Iranian oil ministry’s foreign diplomacy. In December 2022, Oji had discussed the latest developments in the oil market with his Venezuelan counterpart Tareck El Aissami in a phone conversation. The officials talked about the development of energy cooperation between the two countries and followed up on recent agreements reached between them.

In May 2022, during a visit by the Iranian oil minister to Venezuela, the two countries signed several agreements and memorandums of understanding in various fields, including the development of Venezuela’s oil and gas fields, upgrading and renovation of the country’s refineries, training of manpower in oil, gas, and petrochemical industries, transfer of engineering and technical services, and development of export markets for Venezuelan crude oil, gas condensate, and petroleum products.

Later in June, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro visited Tehran, heading a high-ranking politico-economic delegation, to sign a 20-year cooperation document with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. The strategic document included cooperation in the fields of politics, culture, economy, oil, petrochemicals, and tourism. The cooperation between Iran and Venezuela, which had already begun with the exports of Iranian gasoline to Venezuela in 2020, entered a new phase and expanded to other sectors following the signing of the mentioned document.

In September 2022, Venezuela increased its oil shipments to Asia through intermediaries and growing cargo swaps with Iran, with crude exports reaching their third-highest level this year. Iran has been swapping Venezuelan heavy oil and other commodities for gasoline, condensate, refinery parts, and technical assistance while providing the country with lighter oil to be used as diluent.

Iranian crude, which is similar in quality to Venezuela’s Mesa 30 crude, has helped state-run oil company PDVSA boost operations in its main oil-producing region, the Orinoco Belt. As its oil output becomes heavier, Venezuela struggles to source medium and light grades for its refineries, contributing to limited production and intermittent scarcity of motor fuels. The country began shipping in heavy crude oil from Iran to use as feedstock in domestic refineries in May.

On the sidelines of the ninth meeting of the Iran-Venezuela Joint Economic Committee, held in Tehran in mid-November 2022, Venezuelan Transportation Minister Ramon Blazquez met with Head of Iran’s National Development Fund (NDF) Mehdi Ghazanfari, during which the Iranian side expressed readiness for investment in Venezuela’s oil and petrochemical projects.

Overall, the visit of the Iranian oil minister to Venezuela signals the continued strengthening of cooperation between the two countries in the energy sector and beyond, despite the challenges posed by sanctions and other external pressures.


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