Suriname, Venezuela to exchange rice for oil

OREANDA-NEWS. October 20, 2015. Suriname has concluded an agreement with Venezuela to use rice as part-payment for refined oil products imported under Caracas' preferential PetroCaribe facility, Suriname's foreign ministry says.

Suriname will ship 104,000 t/yr of rice to Venezuela, replacing part of the rice that Venezuela has been importing from Guyana under the PetroCaribe agreement.

Venezuela plans to stop importing rice from Guyana next month, as a result of a flare-up in a century-old border dispute.

Last month Venezuela suspended shipments of up to 5,000 b/d of refined products to Guyana, leaving the country dependent on Trinidad and Tobago for all of its fuel requirements, Guyana's government said.

An official in Guyana's office of the presidency told Argus that the country is importing about 8,000 b/d of products from Trinidad, including diesel, gasoline, LPG and fuel oil for power plants.

The agreement in principle between Suriname and Venezuela was reached in September 2014, and was concluded during a 16 October visit to Suriname by Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, Suriname's foreign ministry says.

Under PetroCaribe, Venezuela's state-run oil company PdV supplies several Caribbean and Central American countries with crude and refined products, allowing them to keep a part of the payment as a long-term, low interest loan.

Caracas accepts as payment a range of agricultural and industrial products, including rice, sugar, beans and cement. Suriname has a 10,000 b/d PetroCaribe quota.

The foreign ministry did not indicate the price at which the rice-for-oil agreement was calculated. Guyana's agreement was to supply 210,000 t/yr of rice, valued at \\$130mn.

Venezuela's claim on the Essequibo region, a legacy of British colonialism, has prevented the two countries from demarcating their maritime border. The Essequibo makes up the western two-thirds of Guyana, including the maritime area where

ExxonMobil said it made a "significant" oil discovery in May.

The US major operates the offshore Stabroek block with partners US independent Hess and Chinese state-owned CNOOC unit Nexen.

Maduro and his Guyanese counterpart David Granger met in New York last month and agreed to fresh UN mediation of the long-running dispute.