Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Venezuela Expropriates 39 Oil Service Firms

Venezuela expropriates 39 oil service firms

CARACAS (AFP) - - Venezuela has expropriated 39 oil service providers, some backed by foreign capital, after the government passed a law extending the state's control over all activities related to the industry.

According to the government's official journal on Monday, Venezuelan Petroleum (PDVSA) and affiliated firms have "taken control of operation and the immediate possession of institutions, documentation, goods and equipment" of the 39 firms.

Many of the firms were subsidiaries of foreign businesses, energy industry sources said.

On May 7, Venezuela's National Assembly passed a law which "reserves for the state, the goods and services connected to primary hydrocarbon activities."

Shortly after the law's passage the government announced that private contractors servicing wells, transporting workers and providing other services in the oil-rich Maracaibo Lake area would be nationalized.

"We will start to recover assets that will now belong to the state, as they always should have," President Hugo Chavez said.

The measures also gave local courts exclusive jurisdiction to settle disputes between the state and private companies, shielding the country from international arbitration.

Venezuela has proven oil reserves of around 99 billion barrels and is the western hemisphere's largest oil exporter.

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