Costa Rica considers joining Chávez’s oil group

July 4, 2008

A Costa Rican government delegation will travel to Venezuela this weekend to participate in the upcoming Petrocaribe summit and analyze the possibility of joining the group, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The summit will be held Sunday in the coastal city of Maracaibo.

An arrangement launched in 2005 by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and the presidents of several Caribbean island states, Petrocaribe provides Caribbean countries with Venezuelan oil under preferable payment conditions. It currently has 17 members.

Given record-high oil prices and the resulting increase in Costa Rica´s oil import bill, the Costa Rican government has decided to explore the possibility of joining Petrocaribe to benefit from the short and long-term financing and deferred payment options the initiative offers.

Petrocaribe allows its members to pay half the price of the oil they buy from Venezuela within 90 days of the purchase and the remainder within 25 years at an interest rate of 1 percent a year.

The Costa Rican delegation will be headed by Energy and Environment Minister Roberto Dobles, Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno, and José León Desanti, executive president of the Costa Rican Petroleum Refinery (RECOPE).

The Costa Rican government has in recent months been analyzing various alternatives to reduce the country´s oil import bill, which last year totaled $2.8 billion.

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