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By Marianna Parraga and Brian Ellsworth HOUSTON/CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's shipments of crude oil and fuel to its allies have fallen to a five-year low as a weak economy hits its ability to uphold accords that former President Hugo Chavez struck to lower energy costs for friends and expand his diplomatic clout. Total shipments under cooperation deals with Latin American and Caribbean countries dropped 11 percent in 2013 to 243,000 barrels per day (bpd), the lowest level since 2007, according to recent data from Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA. Several factors are behind the decline: lower oil output and weak economic growth at home, a domestic refinery network that has not fully recovered from a severe accident in 2012, and financing agreements with China that divert much of the OPEC nation's oil production to Asia. In the eights months through August, countries from Jamaica to Argentina that have supply pacts with Venezuela have bought 140 cargoes of crude, components and fuel for transport and power generation on the open market, according to tender information compiled by Reuters.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The attorney for a woman who nearly died after unknowingly drinking tea laced with a chemical cleaning compound at a Utah restaurant said Thursday an employee at the eatery burned herself a month earlier on the same substance.