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PDVSA Chief Goes to Russia To "Deepen Ties"

The head of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, Asdrubal Chavez, and Venezuelan vice-president and economy minister Delcy Rodriguez are visiting Russia today to "deepen strategic alliances," Reuters reported, citing a statement issued by the Venezuelan information ministry.

Russia's Interfax reported the Venezuelan delegation will meet with Russian entrepreneurs during their visit.

Russia, along with China, is one of very few allies the government in Caracas has left. State energy giant Rosneft had a joint venture with PDVSA for years before it was forced to up and leave the country after the United States targeted two of its subsidiaries with Venezuela-related sanctions.

Yet Russia did not exit Venezuela. Soon after Rosneft announced its pullout, Moscow set up a new state-owned company named Roszarubezhneft, which received Rosneft's Venezuelan assets.

According to Reuters, Venezuela is trying to secure new oil deals with its ally under a new law passed recently by its National Assembly.

Dubbed "Anti-Blockade Constitutional Law for National Development and Guarantee of Human Rights," the legislation was first announced by President Nicolas Maduro and then passed by the National Assembly, where the government has full control.

The law aims to counter the effects of U.S. sanctions on the Venezuelan economy by offering new ways for foreign investors to participate in this economy and also giving more powers to the government. According to critics, the new law would threaten Venezuela's sovereignty by inviting more private capital and opening up opportunities for privatization in strategic economic sectors.

Yet the government seems to be hungry for foreign investments and, according to Rodriguez, the new law will protect these investments. During a news conference following the passing of the law, the economy minister said the government was about to present "a basket of projects" for potential investors in sectors including oil and gas, mining, agriculture, and tourism.

"The first thing this law did was to declare illegal any type of unilateral, restrictive or punitive coercive measure against Venezuela. We do not recognize them, they do not exist in our territory," Rodriguez said.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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