Cuba and Venezuela signed several agreements during a visit to the Caribbean country by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, local authorities reported on Saturday. The two states signed 14 new agreements in various spheres, including petrochemistry, agriculture, production of foodstuffs and fishing.
One of the most important of them was an agreement on boosting the capacity of the oil refinery in Santiago-de-Cuba (eastern Cuba) which now refines 22,000 barrels of oil daily. A provision is also made for enlarging the oil refinery in San Fuegos (central Cuba), which had been built with assistance of Soviet specialists late in the 1980s.
On Saturday, Chavez and Cuban acting head of state Raul Castro participated in the launching ceremony of the refinery in San Fuegos, which was mothballed in 1995 when Havana started experiencing a dire shortage of fuel and gas as a result of discontinuation of oil deliveries from the Soviet Union.
The refinery resumed its operations after Cuba and Venezuela repaired and updated the complex by joint efforts. Following its commissioning, its capacity increased to 65,000 barrels of oil daily. However, plans provide for processing 150,000 barrels of oil daily in future.
Bilateral agreements provide for implementing projects in the power industry, restoration of an oil pipeline between the cities of Matansas, (country's centre) and Santiago-de-Cuba as well as prospecting for new deposits of gold, zinc and chrome in eastern provinces of the Caribbean island. Besides, the understandings between the two countries provide for boosting cooperation in some other spheres.
Venezuela placed first among Cuba's commercial partners. The size of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries tops seven billion US dollars. Caracas supplies Havana with 92,000 barrels of oil and its derivatives daily on the basis of a bilateral agreement. In turn, Cuba sends Venezuela specialists in public health, education and sport. ( Itar-Tass )