San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Venezuelan oil alliance still attracts Costa Rica

Even as oil prices plummet, Costa Rica is still seeking to enter an energy alliance spearheaded by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Costa Rica is in talks to join PetroCaribe, which allows 18 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean to buy fuel from Venezuela under favorable conditions.

These conditions have worsened since Costa Rica decided to enter PetroCaribe three months ago. In July, when oil cost more than $130 a barrel, PetroCaribe members could pay for 60 percent of its fuel bill over 25 years.

Now, as oil has slipped below $70 a barrel, PetroCaribe members can pay only 40 percent of its fuel bill over 25 years. The rest must be coughed up within 90 days.

Still, membership will protect Costa Rica against future price hikes and shortages, said Roberto Dobles, minister of environment, energy and telecommunications, in an interview with the daily La Nación.

Costa Rica will likely become a full member at the next PetroCaribe summit in December. Until then, the National Oil Refinery (RECOPE) must pay its entire fuel bill within eight days.

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