Venezuela, Colombia to Build Pipeline

Venezuela, Colombia to Build Pipeline

The construction of a natural gas pipeline to connect Colombia with Venezuela and eventually offer access to markets in Asia will begin next month, officials said Thursday.

Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Rondon, speaking on the sidelines of talks between Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez and his Colombian counterpart, Carolina Barco, said work on the pipeline _ part of a regional energy network _ would start on July 8.

Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told state television that the pipeline “is very important for Venezuela because it’s going to mean access to the Pacific, where we have the expanding Asian markets.”

The two South American nations agreed in July 2004 to invest $150 million to build the underwater pipeline, which will connect Colombia’s region of La Guajira with Venezuela’s Paraguana peninsula.

Initially, the pipeline will send gas from La Guajira to meet Venezuela’s gas consumption needs. Venezuela plans to use the pipeline to send natural gas to Colombia and to other markets by 2013 _ after increasing domestic production to meet its own needs by 2008.

Ramirez said the pipeline would have enough capacity for Colombia to send Venezuela, which has faced a domestic gas shortage in its western regions, 150 million cubic feet of gas per day.

“We are later going to export the same quantity to Colombia and Central America,” he said.

The two countries also have discussed the possibility of building an oil pipeline through Colombia that would enable Venezuela _ the world’s fifth-largest oil producer _ to export oil to energy-hungry nations such as China.

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