San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica likely to join Chávez oil group

Costa Rica is edging ever closer to becoming the 18th member of Petrocaribe, a Venezuela-led initiative that provides Latin American and Caribbean countries with favorable financing on oil imports, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The high-level Costa Rican government delegation that visited Venezuela this weekend to take part in the fifth Petrocaribe meeting concluded that “conditions are favorable” for Costa Rica to join the group.

Petrocaribe as launched in 2005 by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and the presidents of several Caribbean island states.

Despite recent animosity between the current Costa Rican administration and the regime of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, record-high oil prices have prompted the Costa Rican government to explore the possibility of joining Petrocaribe to benefit from the short- and long-term financing and deferred payment options the initiative offers.

Petrocaribe allows its members to pay 60 percent the price of the oil they buy from Venezuela within 90 days of the purchase and the remainder within 25 years at an interest rate of 1 percent a year if the barrel of oil is priced at above $100 a barrel.

The delegation was headed by Environment and Energy Minister Roberto Dobles, Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno and José León Desanti, executive president of the Costa Rican Petroleum Refinery (RECOPE).
“We felt a very positive, very receptive climate,” Stagno said yesterday morning from the Venezuelan Caribbean city of Maracaibo. “During the ministers´ meeting Costa Rica was issues an open invitation to join as a full member.”
Ministers Dobles and Stagno met with Petrocaribe officials as well as with representatives of the state-owned Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, a major suppler to RECOPE.

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