Venezuela plans to increase oil and gas production to satisfy the needs of developing nations like China, Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez said Monday in Caracas.
"Venezuela plans to increase production and satisfy the needs of these countries," Rodriguez said as he announced President Hugo Chavez's agenda for his pending trip to China.
Chavez leaves Tuesday for Beijing, where officials have said he will be on an official visit through extending until Monday December 27.
Mr. Rodriguez explained that "it is of strategic interest to Venezuela to diversify her markets without adversely affecting any of the customers who are already receiving energy goods and services."
Venezuela, a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is the world's fifth-largest exporter of crude and the fourth most important supplier to the United States, where almost 80% of its production is shipped, equivalent to 2.7 million barrels per day.
President Chavez's China trip, his third since he took office in February 1999, will concentrate on "energy and technology" issues, according to the Foreign Affairs Minister.
Mr. Rodriguez pointed out that China is building in Venezuela an "Orimulsion plant" to produce fossil fuel which will be used to replace coal in the generation of thermoelectrical energy.
"Surely (Venezuelan) gas will also be of some interest (to the Chinese)," added the minister.
Another goal of Chavez's visit will be to strengthen bilateral cooperation in such areas as technology in food production and telecommunications sectors.