Venezuela is looking to double its daily oil exports to China to 1 million barrels in 2015 from the current level of 500,000 barrels, Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Friday.
Speaking at a conference in Beijing on bilateral cooperation, Ramirez said his country, which currently has a verified oil reserve of more than 200 billion barrels, is expected to be one of China's major petroleum suppliers.
According to statistics from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, in April 2012, Venezuela was the fourth-largest source of China's oil imports after Saudi Arabia, Angola and Russia.
The country exports a daily average of 460,000 barrels of crude oil to China, accounting for 8.3 percent of the nation's total oil imports.
China's oil imports from Venezuela have been growing from 49,000 barrels a day in 2005 to the current level of around half a million, he said.
One barrel of crude oil is equivalent to about 160 liters. One ton of oil is about seven barrels.
According to Ramirez, a joint venture set up by PetroChina and PDVSA, Venezuela's national oil company, is currently producing 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day, and he expected the amount to increase to 1.1 million barrels a day, mainly due to the development of Venezuela's Orinoco heavy-oil belt.
Ramirez was quoted by Spanish media as saying in May that PetroChina was planning to invest more than $4 billion in exploring the Orinoco reserve.
The target will be achieved as part of Venezuela's ambition to double its daily oil production from the currently three million barrels per day to six million barrels in 2019.
Meanwhile, China is facing rising dependence on oil imports, which increased to 57 percent of its total consumption in 2011 from 32 percent at the beginning of the decade, according to official data, as the country became the world's largest energy consumer.
"Venezuela is seeking independent economic development, and we hope that could be achieved via cooperation (with China)," said the Venezuelan oil minister.
The annual conference, the 11th of its kind since 2001, has seen the signing of 53 cooperation projects, with 23 of these related to the oil industry.
Zhang Ping, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, who also addressed the conference, said oil imports from Venezuela are expected to reach 29 million tons this year, and will continue to rise in the next few years to reach the goal of 50 million tons.
Trade between China and Venezuela reached $18.2 billion in 2011, up 75.5 percent year-on-year. But the amount was already surpassed in the first 10 months of this year, which hit $20.5 billion, according to Zhang.
By the end of 2011, Chinese investment in Venezuela was more than $1.9 billion, most of which was oil-related.
China is currently Venezuela's second-largest trade partner, and Venezuela is China's fourth-largest trade partner in Latin America.
Construction of a 58.6-billion-yuan ($9.4billion) oil refinery set up by PetroChina and PDVSA began in May 2012, and it is expected to have an annual capacity of 20 million tons when completed in 2014.
According to Zhang, the first oil tanker jointly constructed by the two sides has also taken to the seas, as one of 18 oil tankers ordered by Venezuela.