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Posted Monday, December 24, 2007
Haiti seeking Chevron's help to import Venezuelan fuel
By Jonathan M. Katz, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Haiti is seeking a contract with Chevron Corp. to ship Venezuelan oil purchased under President Hugo Chavez's discount fuel program, a government official said Sunday.

Haiti joined Chavez's Petrocaribe initiative more than a year ago, but has been unable to transport or receive any oil shipments so far, said Michael Lecorps, director of the aid management office in charge of implementing the program.

An agreement with Chevron to ship the oil from Venezuela to Haiti would allow the fuel-starved nation to import 14,000 barrels of oil a day, he said.

Under Petrocaribe's financing terms, Haiti would have three months to pay for 60 percent of each oil shipment, and 25 years to pay the balance at 1 percent interest, officials said.

Haitian President Rene Preval first announced the negotiations with Chevron, which operates Texaco gas stations in the impoverished Caribbean country, after returning Saturday from a Petrocaribe summit in Cuba.

"We're going to sign with Chevron and then we're going to start ordering oil," Preval said, adding that Venezuelan technicians will visit Haiti to consult on the project.

Chevron officials at the company's San Ramon, California, headquarters did not respond to requests for comment.

While Petrocaribe is mainly a financing program, Chavez encouraged heads of state at the 16-nation summit to take advantage of a clause that would allow them to pay for oil with services or local goods. Cuba, for instance, sends doctors to Venezuela in exchange for oil.

Critics charge that Chavez created the program in 2005 to build anti-U.S. alliances, but Caribbean leaders like Preval say it will help slash soaring energy and food prices in their struggling countries.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

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