Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Chavez completes takeover of Venezuela's oil fields

Reported as Takeover of oil fields in Venezuela is complete, though there's more to the story:
President Hugo Chavez's government took over Venezuela's last privately run oil fields Tuesday, intensifying a power struggle with international companies over the world's largest known single petroleum deposit.

Newly bought Russian-made fighter jets streaked through the sky as Chavez shouted "Down with the U.S. empire!" to thousands of red-clad oil workers, calling the state takeover a historic victory for Venezuela after years of U.S.-backed corporate exploitation.

"The nationalization of Venezuela's oil is now for real," said Chavez, who declared that for Venezuela to be a socialist state it must have control over its natural resources.
While the state takeover had been planned for some time, BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, France's Total and Norway's Statoil remain locked in a struggle with the Chavez government over the terms and conditions under which they will be allowed to stay on as minority partners.

All but Houston-based ConocoPhillips signed agreements last week agreeing in principle to state control, and ConocoPhillips said Tuesday that it too was cooperating.

Analysts say the companies have leverage because the state oil company, PetrĂ³leos de Venezuela, cannot transform the Orinoco's tarlike crude into marketable oil without their investment and experience.

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