Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Friday, August 19, 2005

Hugo Chavez threatens to play oil card, again

Venezuela leader Hugo Chavez threatens to halt oil exports to the US, seemingly egged on by his new friends, the Mad Mullahs of Iran, as reported at A Daily Briefing on Iran.
In Venezuela, Pres. Hugo Chavez has taken the idea a step further, threatening to halt oil exports if alleged attacks on his country continue, according to Agence France Press. Appearing last week as a witness at a symbolic “anti-imperialist court” in Caracas, Chavez said, “Washington’s molestation may cause more serious problems; our two oil tankers going to the U.S. everyday may go to another country.” He added that the “Northern America market is not compulsory for us.” Venezuela exports 1.5 million barrels of oil to the United States daily.

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, the Iranian newspaper’s editorial described oil as “the most potent economic weapon for settling scores,” and suggested an embargo on oil sales to the United States and European countries that are pressuring Iran to end its nuclear program. It also criticized what it sees as a double standard, noting that Israel, Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons, and that most of them have conducted tests.

Back in February, Chavez was threatening to sell sell the US refineries owned and operated by Citgo, a wholly-owned subsidiary of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said his government may sell eight U.S. refineries as part of a strategy by the world's fifth-largest supplier of oil to reduce dependency on sales to the U.S.

``Not one Venezuelan works at these refineries,'' Chavez said in Buenos Aires yesterday, according to Venezuela's Communication and Information Ministry. ``They don't give us one cent of profit. They don't pay taxes in Venezuela. This is economic imperialism.''

Chavez, who on Jan. 30 signed agreements with China to boost sales of gas and oil to the world's second-largest energy consumer after the U.S., also said he may sell refineries in Germany, Sweden and the U.K., according to the ministry's Web site.

Venezuela's threat to exit businesses in the U.S. reflects stepped up rhetoric by Chavez, 50, a friend of Cuban President Fidel Castro, to reduce business with the U.S., buyer of about half of all Venezuelan oil exports.
My favorite line after all the Chavez baloney: "Citgo, a 100-year-old company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Dec. 8 announced it would pay a $400 million dividend to its parent company, according to a statement on the Petroleos de Venezuela Web site."

Wonder where that $400 million went?

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