Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

“Great China”: After failing in Africa, Beijing now bet on Latin America.

Hu Jin Tao and Raul Castro in 2008. Beijing wants to improve its presence in the region, after years of failure in Africa. Photo: Jorge Luis Baños Hernández/AIN

HAVANA – China is taking another great leap forward in its Latin American energy plans, raising Cuba’s energy importance in the process, with a deal to lead a $6 billion refinery expansion project on the communist island, experts said this week, according to Reuter.

The project, to be funded mostly by China’s Eximbank, is the latest of several significant moves in the region for the Asian power as it continues to expand its global influence.

For Cuba, the refurbishing of its antiquated refinery in the coastal city of Cienfuegos will provide an outlet for oil it hopes to tap soon in the Gulf of Mexico, while also laying the groundwork for the island to possibly become a key oil transshipment point for the Caribbean basin.

A unit of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp expects to begin work in early 2011 on the project that will more than double the refinery’s capacity to 150,000 barrels daily and include construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal.

Venezuela, Cuba’s closest ally, will provide financial guarantees in the form of oil, a pattern followed by Beijing in other deals for energy in Latin America.

In the past two years, China has financed projects and formed joint ventures in Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador which are expected to bring it at least 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

It has leased a 5 million barrel storage facility on the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius and reportedly talked with San Antonio, Texas-based refining giant Valero Energy Corp. about buying its refinery on the island of Aruba.

The oil marriage of China with Latin America is one made in energy heaven, said… READ MORE HERE