Venezuela’s government has also announced direct flights to Iran and Algeria.
Direct flights between Caracas and Doha will commence from October this year, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced on Thursday.
The latest developments came as the president ended his two-day trip to the Gulf country and left for Azerbaijan, where he is currently visiting.
“We were reviewing the entire investment plan of Qatari businessmen in oil, gas, petrochemicals, tourism and food production,” Maduro said regarding the meetings held in Qatar, in a Venezuelan state television broadcast from Baku.
The Venezuelan president’s visit to Azerbaijan comes as part of his diplomatic tour that has covered Turkey, Algeria, Iran, Kuwait, and Qatar thus far.
Venezuela eyes Qatari markets
Venezuela’s state-run broadcaster VTV described the trip to Doha as one that “allows strengthening the cooperation agenda focused on the areas of science and technology, agriculture, transportation, energy, tourism and culture.”
Maduro, along with his high-profile delegation, namely ministers of tourism, transport, agriculture, science and technology, held a meeting with the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) in Doha last week, where the two sides discussed several fertile grounds for potential Qatari investments.
Maduro indicated his country’s keenness to cooperate and gain the support of Qatar, especially with regards to 18 sectors responsible for national development, including agriculture, industry, gas and oil, tourism and telecommunications.
During the meeting, discussions on the possibility of fostering incentives for Qatar as well as foreign investors was on the agenda. Venezuela is seen as working to attract foreign direct investment as it plans to issue a designated law for economic zones.
During the president’s two-day visit, energy policy was of particular interest and a joint concern between the nations.
Venezuela and its oil sector
While in Kuwait, Maduro held a meeting with the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) upcoming secretary-general, Haitham Al Ghais.
“[We] agreed on the need to continue creating mechanisms to achieve stability in the world energy market,” Maduro tweeted on 14 June.
OPEC put Caracas’s May output at 717,000 barrels per day (bpd), as measured by secondary sources, which is 2,000 bpd less than its output in April.
Historically, oil sales have been Caracas’s main source of foreign income, however due to Washington’s crippling sanctions, enforced in an effort to oust the Maduro government, its economic activities has been heavily hampered with.
Foreign companies were pressured to gradually abandon operations in the South American nation including oil agreements with Venezuela, following the 2017 financial sanctions against the state-owned oil and natural gas company PDVSA, the 2019 oil embargo, subsequent secondary sanctions and a series of other tightening measures throughout the year 2020, reports laid out.
Consequently, the country’s oil output fell to monumental lows, going from 1.9 million bpd in 2017 to less than 500,000 bpd by the end of 2020.
Although possessing a struggling gas industry under US sanctions, Caracas has slowly gained momentum over its crude production with assistance from Iran, an ally nation also targeted by crushing US sanctions.
In September 2021, Venezuela and Tehran struck an “oil-for-condensate swap agreement to dilute PDVSA extra-heavy crude into exportable grades, thus boosting the industry’s output and exports,” reports noted.
On 13 June, Reuters reported that an Iran-flagged tanker delivered around one million barrels of crude to PDVSA, which was the third shipment in less than two months.
Early June, the Caracas and Tehran’s alliance was further bolstered as the two sides witnessed the signing of a 20-year cooperation deal to strengthen political and economic ties, with a particular emphasis on the gas and petrochemical sectors.
This move was also seen by officials as a means of “confronting the US”.
“Venezuela has shown exemplary resistance against sanctions and threats from enemies and imperialists,” Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said, according to Reuters.