By Steven Bodzin
Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuela President Hugo Chavez supports constructing a natural gas pipeline beneath the Caribbean to supply neighboring islands and Cuba, and possibly extending to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
Chavez called for the Venezuela-to-Caribbean pipeline in a speech today to the PetroCaribe summit, a gathering in Caracas of energy ministers and heads of state from the region. The speech was broadcast on Venezuelan state television.
The proposal for what he called a ``Great Trans-Caribbean Gas Pipeline'' comes just two weeks after Chavez said his plan for a ``Great Gas Pipeline of the South'' was on hold. That $20 billion pipeline to Argentina through the Amazon rain forest had been ``frozen'' by opposition in Brazil, he said July 27.
The Caribbean pipeline would also supply Puerto Rico and Haiti, Chavez said. He said another way to supply the Caribbean would be to build a plant to regasify liquefied natural gas in Haiti, which could be ready in two years. Venezuela has no plants to liquefy natural gas and none under construction.
The concept of a pipeline across the Caribbean once gained support from the World Bank, though it was opposed by the U.S. out of concern that the pipeline would interrupt the U.S.-led blockade of the Communist-governed island, Chavez said.
Venezuela has more than 150 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to Oil & Gas Journal. More than 90 percent of that can be extracted only by pumping crude oil.
At the summit, Chavez also proposed building an oil refinery in Guyana and urged the government of Dominica to accept his offer of a 10,000 barrel-a-day refinery, a project currently awaiting environmental analysis. He said Venezuela's restoration of the Cienfuegos refinery in Cuba will complete in November.
Chavez said his plan to fund a refinery in Ecuador will allow the South American nation to export refined products to China and other Asian destinations.
To contact the reporter on this story: Steven Bodzin in Caracas at email@example.com .
Last Updated: August 11, 2007 17:44 EDT