Venezuela to scrap Colombia gasoline deal

CARACAS: Venezuela will not renew a recently-expired deal that provided Colombia gasoline at cut-rate prices, Venezuelan energy minister Rafael Ramirez said, amid simmering tensions between the South American neighbors.

"The agreement was valid for one year, ending yesterday (Tuesday) and we do not see any reason to renew it," said the minister, who also heads state oil giant PDVSA.

His comments come amid heightened cross-border tensions over Colombia's decision to allow US troops and contractors to use seven of its military bases for anti-drug and anti-terrorism operations.

"We are not inclined to continue subsidizing the Colombian economy when they take such totally unfriendly decisions against our people," said Ramirez.

Under the deal Colombian border provinces had imported 4.5 million gallons (17 million liters) of Venezuelan gasoline each month at more than half the standard rate, a move to curb the illicit cross-border trade in fuel.