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Venezuela, U.S. Negotiate Oil Deal

September 13, 2002

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ U.S. and Venezuelan officials are discussing an agreement that would guarantee Venezuelan oil exports to the United States for 20 years, the head of Venezuelan state oil monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela said Thursday.

Ali Rodriguez told Union Radio that he will discuss the possible agreement Thursday with U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs Alan Larson, who is visiting Venezuela for three days.

Larson also plans to meet Thursday with President Hugo Chavez and Finance Minister Tobias Nobrega.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere and is among the top four oil suppliers to the United States. The South American country produces about 2.5 million barrels a day.

In an interview with Televen television, Rodriguez said he estimated OPEC members were producing between about 1.2 million and 1.8 million barrels a day above their quotas.

Venezuela has urged fellow members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries not to raise production at the group’s Sept. 19 meeting in Osaka, Japan.

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