Oil – Venezuela – USA

Published on Mail Guardian online, May 2, 2007.

Venezuela seizes foreign oil fields

2 excerpts: Thousands of Venezualan workers took control of foreign-owned oil fields on Tuesday as President Hugo Chávez stepped up his battle with Washington in a new wave of nationalisation and an announcement that the country was leaving the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Amid jubilant scenes, oil workers wearing red T-shirts emblazoned with “Yes to nationalisation” moved into the giant Orinoco basin shortly after midnight after Caracas insisted six of the world’s biggest oil companies cede operational control.

Three United States companies — ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Exxon Mobil, together with BP, Norway’s Statoil and France’s Total — agreed to transfer operational control to state-owned Petroleos de Venezuelat …

… The Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), a Washington-based think tank, said that the fund’s “support” for the botched coup against Chávez five years ago might have influenced the decision to pull out of the IMF and the bank.

The CEPR said that within four hours of the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to unseat Chávez, an IMF spokesperson was pledging to work with the new regime.

An IMF spokesperson on Tuesday night strongly denied that the fund had supported the coup, adding that the spokesperson had been responding to a hypothetical question at a press conference. “There was no more to it than that,” he added … (full text).

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007.

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