Japan will lend $1.5 billion to the state-owned oil company PDVSA in exchange for three million barrels of crude oil over the next five years, according to a Japanese diplomat. \"We have 54 nuclear plants and more than 30 are not in use because of the accident at Fukushima, so this agreement with Venezuela is very important to us for thermo-electric energy in Japan,\" said Takashi Kondo, the spokesman for the Japanese embassy in Caracas. A 9.0 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami which hit Japan on March 11 caused major damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, forcing its closure. Venezuela is South America\'s largest crude producer, but its coastline does not face the Pacific, and it has never sold oil directly to Asia because of supply difficulties. The cost of shipping the oil will be borne by the Japanese companies Mitsubishi, Itochu, Marubeni et Mitsui, which are financing 10 percent of the loan. The other loan guarantors are the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation and two private Japanese banks, Kondo said. Venezuela says it produces three million barrels of crude per day, although that figure is disputed by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which puts the number at 2.3 million barrels per day. The agreement between the two countries will be formally signed on June 28.