Caracas – Venezuela's energy minister said state oil giant PDVSA will deliver its pledged contribution to a refinery joint venture with Brazilian state-controlled energy firm Petrobras.
"We're going to enter with half (the amount) of the $5 billion loan that the (Brazilian) state development bank gave Petrobras," Rafael Ramirez told reporters during a visit to the massive Orinoco Oil Belt in eastern Venezuela.
"We're not going to leave our government looking bad," Ramirez, who is also PDVSA's president, said. "There's an agreement between the two national companies" and also between the two governments.
During his visit to Brazil in June, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez brought up the refinery with counterpart Dilma Rousseff and pledged his country's commitment to the project, the minister recalled.
Ramirez did not reveal when PDVSA will make the payment, saying only that the oil company has been in talks with a "pool" of Brazilian and international banks on securing the necessary loan guarantees.
"We're in the hands of the ... banks and the banks have taken all this time," he said, adding that "we're not playing any tricks on Petrobras nor do we want to wait until the deadline to pay."
Petrobras' downstream director, Paulo Roberto Costa, reiterated Monday at a press conference that PDVSA has until August to decide if it will contribute financing for the project or bow out.
Costa noted that Petrobras has finished building just 35 percent of the refinery, using a 10 billion reais ($6.25 billion) loan from the BNDES development bank.
Petrobras also said this week that it has included the full cost of building the refinery in its 2011-2015 investment plan in case PDVSA pulls out of the project, which is being built at the Suape port complex near Recife, capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco.
Ramirez said the payment deadline of Aug. 15 "is not absolute by any means. It's just that that's when the (BNDES) financing will run out" and the partners will have to contribute their share.
The Brazilian and Venezuelan governments reached a deal to build the refinery jointly in 2005 but two years later Petrobras decided to go it alone due to delays in receiving PDVSA's contribution.
Petrobras has a 60 percent stake in the joint venture and PDVSA the remaining 40 percent interest.