Chavez Steals 30 Billion From Private Oil Companies
The companies ceding control included BP Plc, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp, France's Total SA and Norway's Statoil ASA. All but ConocoPhillips signed agreements last week agreeing in principle to state control, and ConocoPhillips said Tuesday that it too was cooperating.
While the state takeover was planned well ahead of time, the oil companies remain locked in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the government.
Chavez says the state is taking a minimum 60 per cent stake in the Orinoco operations, but he is urging foreign companies to stay and help develop the fields.
They have until June 26 to negotiate the terms.
The companies have leverage with Chavez because experts agree that Venezuela's state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, cannot transform the Orinoco's tar-like crude into marketable oil without their investment and experience.
So Chavez lays claim to the capital without the expertise or experts to effectively use it. This scenario seems familiar. I hope ConocoPhilips holds their ground if possible or leaves entirely.