Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has held talks with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro about Caracas' becoming a shareholder in the state-owned West Indies Oil Company.

Browne "invited Venezuela to take up a stake in WIOC" and to work with Antigua and Barbuda "as majority shareholder in transforming WIOC into a key distribution center for petroleum products in the Eastern Caribbean," according to a statement released Friday.

"I was impressed by the positive reaction of the Venezuelan president to our proposals," Browne said.

Founded in 1961, WIOC was purchased in 1976 by the government of Antigua and Barbuda, which four years later sold 75 percent of the company to National Petroleum.

The government bought back the 75-percent stake in WIOC several years ago and has been seeking outside investors to provide an infusion of capital.

Currently, WIOC facilities operate only as a terminal for oil products with capacity for storing up to 322,000 barrels.

Antigua and Barbuda imports Venezuelan oil on preferential terms under Caracas' Petrocaribe initiative. EFE