Venezuela has obtained a two-year moratorium on repayment of some of its debt from its major creditor banks as a result of the oil price collapse, President Jaime Lusinchi announced yesterday.
Foreign bankers and government officials said that the decision would not delay the planned signing on Feb. 26 of an agreement to refinance $21.2 billion of the country's public foreign debt.
"There would have to be a catastrophe to delay the signing as scheduled," said a foreign banker here. "A majority of Venezuela's 450 creditor banks have already approved the payment moratorium."
The agreement delays payment of $923 million in principal scheduled for 1986 to later years, although Venezuela will still have to pay about $4.2 billion in debts in 1986, as originally agreed. Under the agreement, Venezuela, the second largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is required to pay off the $21.2 billion over 12 1/2 years.
Venezuela's creditor banks agreed to the payment delay because oil income has fallen below target levels.
Oil income was forecast to be $12.6 billion in 1986, but analysts estimate the figure could drop under $10 billion with prices and production having fallen since the beginning of the year. Sales were expected to be an average of 1.41 million barrels a day at $24.50 per barrel this year, but by the end of January they were only about 1.1 million barrels a day. On Monday, Venezuela's benchmark crude oil declined by $4.50 per barrel to $14.30 on the spot market.
The country's combined public and private sector foreign debt is $33.5 billion, the fourth largest in Latin America behind Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. The Feb. 26 signing will make Venezuela the first country in Latin America to reach an accord without intervention by the International Monetary Fund.