Chavez signs green energy deal with Portugal

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez signed agreements with Portugal on Sunday for the development of renewable energy projects which he expects will one day replace his country’s dominant oil industry.

Portugal, which has no oil or coal, has in recent times pioneered developments in wind and solar power.

“This type of energy is the future,” Chavez said during a visit to a Portuguese factory making equipment for wind power generators.

“We have to start getting ready for the post-oil era,” he said in televised remarks during a daylong visit to northern Portugal.

Chavez said Venezuela aims to develop wind energy projects at four sites in the country. Details of the green energy agreement were not immediately available.

Chavez also said his government plans to increase oil sales to Portugal, though he did not say how much more crude would be shipped.

The president, whose country’s top oil client is still the United States in spite of political tensions, noted that Venezuela has been diversifying its market.

Chavez also signed a deal with a Portuguese company for the purchase of 1.5 million low-cost laptops. Venezuela already has bought 850,000 of the Portuguese-built computers designed for young schoolchildren.

Venezuelan and Portuguese officials signed agreements pledging to deepen trade and cooperation in areas including agriculture and public housing.

Chavez also said Venezuela is hiring a Portuguese company to build more than 12,000 public housing units, adding it could later build tens of thousands more.

Two ships for carrying asphalt are to be built for Venezuela at Portuguese shipyards, Chavez said.

Portugal weathered a recession last year and is urgently scouting for business to stimulate its anemic economy.

Chavez, who for years has maintained warm relations with Portugal, said its Socialist prime minister, Jose Socrates, had asked him to visit and that global economic troubles were a reason for boosting trade between the two nations.

“At a difficult time for Portugal, we are extending it both our hands,” Chavez said.

The Venezuelan leader was on the final leg of a seven-country trip which aimed to cement strategic alliances and has included stops in Russia, Iran, Syria and Libya.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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