Colombia and Venezuela begin electricity sale negotiations

A delegation from the Colombian energy industry traveled to Venezuela on Monday to begin negotiations over the sale of electricity to the socialist country, which is suffering from an energy crisis.

The group consists of representatives from the Ministry of Mining and Energy, the Commission for the Regulation of Energy and Gas (CREG) and a governmental body that focuses on electricity generation and sales (ISAGEN).

Mining and Energy Minister Hernan Martinez said that Isagen and Venezuela already have a contract on the buying and selling of electricity that will “facilitate the negotiations.”

Under the contract, Colombia was selling energy to Venezuela until last December, when the ministry suspended sales due to the drought in Colombia.

The meeting, to be held in La Guaira, capital of the Venezuelan state Vargas, will address “the terms, the conditions and the quantity [of electricity],” Martinez said.

Venezuela’s energy crisis is reportedly the result of drought and the collapse of the nation’s energy generation system.

The Colombian government made an official offer to sell electricity to Venezuela last Thursday, following complaints from the socialist nation that Colombia’s previous offer via the press was politically motivated.

Colombia-Venezuelan relations deteriorated last year after Colombia signed an agreement with the U.S. that allows the Americans to use military bases and civilian airports for counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism missions.

The controversial accord grants U.S. military personnel access to airbases across Colombia, supposedly with the objective of combatting terrorism and drug trafficking in the country. Chavez considers the arrangement the greatest current threat to Latin America as a whole.

The border region has long been a source of tension between the countries, as Venezuela accuses Colombia of allowing right-wing paramilitary fighters to enter Venezuelan territory, while Colombia says the border is often crossed by left-wing guerrillas seeking refuge in the neighboring country.

Frozen diplomatic relations have adversely affected the Colombian economy, with exports to Venezuela down 79% in December 2009.

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