1 January 2006 - 12:55
  • News Code: 76190

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Some 250,000 barrels of discounted Venezuelan crude oil have arrived in Puerto Rico, part of a bid by this U.S. Caribbean territory to lower energy costs, an official said.

The transaction was a "test run" with Venezuela's state oil firm, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, Edwin Rivera Serrano, head of the Electric Energy Authority, or AEE, said late Friday in a statement. Rivera didn't say how much AEE paid for the oil, only saying it saved 1.5 percent in the deal. A call placed by The Associated Press on Saturday seeking further information from AEE went unanswered. PDVSA's Citgo unit operates gasoline stations in Puerto Rico but the issue of AEE buying oil from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government caused a stir here when talks were announced in September. Some conservative politicians questioned if Puerto Rico should strike an oil deal with Venezuela, citing political tensions between the South American country and the United States. Tensions have run high recently between U.S. President George W. Bush and Chavez, a self-styled socialist who assails American-style capitalism and has branded Bush a "madman." However, other Puerto Rican leaders saw it as an opportunity to buy oil under preferential terms from Venezuela -- a deal the country has made with some Caribbean and South American nations. Despite the political tensions, the United States remains the top buyer of oil from Venezuela, the world's No. 5 exporter. In early December Venezuela delivered discounted heating oil to a New York City low-income housing development, part of a promise Chavez made to provide oil directly to poor Americans. Chavez's critics contend the oil deal is a cynical ploy to score public relations points and tweak the Bush administration. PIN/AP
News Code 76190

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