Venezuela Offers Reduced-Rate Oil

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela will supply 10 Caribbean and Central
American countries with 80,000 barrels a day of oil at reduced rates by the
end of the year, President Hugo Chavez said Monday.


The so-called Energy Pact of Caracas will include Haiti, Costa Rica, Panama,
Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Barbados, Honduras, Guatemala
and Belize.


Venezuela will sell crude to those countries for a price fluctuating between
$20 and $30 a barrel at a 2 percent interest rate. The countries will be
allowed a two-year grace period after which they will have 15 years to
complete the payments.


Chavez added that Venezuela is willing to accept goods and services as part
of the payment.


The heads of state of countries participating under the Energy Pact will
sign the agreement during an Oct. 19 visit to Caracas.


The 80,000 barrels a day is in addition to the same amount Venezuela already
supplies to the region under the San Jose Pact. But the pact doesn't protect
its members -- Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti,
Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic -- from high
oil prices, which have soared in recent days to levels not seen since the
1991Persian Gulf War.


Mexico supplies the other 80,000 barrels a day of the San Jose Pact.


Chavez reiterated he didn't want the Energy Pact to replace the San Jose
Pact.


``This is just a separate and bilateral deal with these nations,'' he said
at a meeting with representatives of these countries.