Oil

Venezuela begins expansion of crude joint venture with China

A Venezuelan oil joint venture with a state-owned Chinese company has started an expansion project to boost output to 165,000 barrels per day (bpd), President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday, from a current capacity of 110,000 bpd.

CARACAS, Aug 8 (Reuters) - A Venezuelan oil joint venture with a state-owned Chinese company has started an expansion project to boost output to 165,000 barrels per day (bpd), President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday, from a current capacity of 110,000 bpd.

Sinovensa, owned by PDVSA subsidiary Venezuelan Petroleum Corp (CVP) and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), produces extra-heavy Orinoco crude and blends it with lighter oil to produce medium-grade Merey.

"Thanks always to China, for all of this effort and all of this cooperation," Maduro said in a televised broadcast that included a delegation of Chinese officials.

PDVSA said in a statement that a second phase of the project would take capacity to 230,000 bpd.

Blended crude grades are widely sought in Asian markets, where PDVSA is increasingly sending its crude production in the wake of Trump administration sanctions that have effectively halted sales of Venezuela oil to the U.S. market.

Venezuela last year sold CNPC an additional 9.9 percent stake in Sinovensa, leaving it with 49 percent ownership. PDVSA owns the rest.

(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Brian Ellsworth Editing by Leslie Adler)

((brian.ellsworth@thomsonreuters.com; 58 212 655 2660; Reuters Messaging: brian.ellsworth.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net, @ReutersVzla))

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