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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe signed a deal on Thursday on building a gas pipeline between the two countries.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe signed a deal on Thursday on building a gas pipeline between the two countries.

Construction of the pipeline, which links Ballena gas field in northern Colombia and western Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, will begin in the second quarter of 2006. The pipeline will be put into operation in 2008, according to a joint declaration of the two countries published on Thursday.

Venezuela will pay for the 300 million US dollar cost of the pipeline, which could be extended to Central America later.

The two leaders met to work out the deal at the Paraguana industrial complex in the Venezuelan city of Punto Fijo, 370 km northwest of Caracas.

Colombia will pump 150 million cubic feet of gas through the pipeline to Venezuela a day for perhaps as long as 10 years. Venezuela will then use the same pipeline to export its own gas ata rate of 150 million to 300 million cubic feet a year.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez said Colombia has at least seven years of gas reserves, which gives Venezuela time to develop its own reserves in Urdaneta off the Paraguana peninsula.

Uribe and Chavez also discussed the possible construction of an oil pipeline that would give Venezuela, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, crucial access to Colombia’s Pacific ports and allow it to ship more oil to China or other Asian countries.

Source : news.xinhuanet.com

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