January 19, 2011 / 1:20 AM / 10 years ago

Venezuela, Turkey to discuss energy projects

* Caracas launching projects after floods

* Turkish minister Yildiz visits OPEC member

CARACAS, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Venezuela plans to discuss providing oil to Turkey in exchange for funding for housing and other infrastructure projects needed after devastating floods in the South American country, the government of President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday.

Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz arrived in South America’s top crude producer on Tuesday for talks that Caracas said would finalize plans discussed during a trip Venezuela’s foreign minister made to Ankara in November. [ID:nN0485443]

“This visit will let us discuss energy projects with a focus on Venezuela exchanging oil for funding for housing and infrastructure projects, areas where Turkey has made important achievements,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Venezuela was hit by nationwide floods late last year that drove nearly 140,000 people from their homes and caused damage that Chavez has estimated at $10 billion.

Turkey imports about 95 percent of the crude it consumes, and since 2007 it has sought to boost ties with Latin American countries to explore for oil and gas.

Yildiz is expected to visit the giant Orinoco extra heavy crude belt. In November, Chavez’s government said Turkey had agreed to invest in the area, which is seen as one of the biggest, largely untapped crude reserves left in the world. (Reporting by Daniel Wallis; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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