[Marxism] Venezuela tightens control of oil fields

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 4 07:30:01 MDT 2006

April 3, 2006
Venezuela Takes Control of Total Oil Field

Filed at 11:15 a.m. ET

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela tightened its grip on the petroleum 
sector after taking control of an oil field from Total S.A. when the French 
company refused to sign an agreement to turn the site over to a state-run 
joint venture.

State oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, ''took control of 
our operations at Jusepin. It was during the weekend,'' Total spokeswoman 
Patricia Marie told The Associated Press by telephone from the company's 
headquarters in Paris.

The move is another step in Venezuela's campaign to take on Big Oil at a 
time when rising oil prices, political instability in the Mideast and 
Nigeria and new buyers in Asia have put the world's fifth-largest oil 
exporter in a winning position.

Last week, Venezuela's oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, said of Exxon Mobil 
Corp. ''we don't want them to be here'' because the Irving, Texas-based 
company has resisted tax increases and contract changes that are part of a 
policy by President Hugo Chavez's government to re-nationalize the oil 

The government has increasingly sought projects with state-controlled oil 
companies, including China's CNPC, India's ONGC and Iran's Petropars.

In the case of Total, it operated the oil field independently under a 
contract with the government. Total was unable to immediately provide 
further details, including how many Total employees work at the site.

The 30,000 barrel-a-day Jusepin oil field was one of 32 in the country that 
have been run by private oil companies under contract. Venezuela demanded 
last year those contracts be changed into joint ventures giving PDVSA a 
minimum 60-percent stake.

On Friday, 17 oil companies including Spanish-Argentine Repsol YPF, Royal 
Dutch Shell PLC and China National Petroleum, signed on to the new legal 

''We didn't migrate the field ... and PDVSA took it. That's logical,'' 
Marie said, adding the company had not made any formal decision yet on how 
to proceed.

Meanwhile, Italian oil and gas company Eni SpA said Monday that PDVSA had 
unilaterally terminated its contract at the Dacion oil field on Saturday.

PDVSA had told the company that management of the site will be transferred 
to personnel appointed by the state oil company, Eni said in a statement.

The Jusepin oil field in eastern Venezuela has been producing about 30,000 
barrels a day. PDVSA awarded Total a 55 percent stake in the field and 
British Petroleum PLC a 45 percent stake under 1993 license agreement.

Eni had a 100 percent stake in the Dacion field.



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