LIMA, Peru — Police armed with submachine guns surrounded the headquarters of New York-based Belco Petroleum Corp. on Saturday after the government nationalized the company, froze its bank accounts and took control of its local assets.
President Alan Garcia announced Friday that the state oil company, Petroperu, would take charge of Belco's operations in Peru charging that the company had refused to accept new conditions for spending its profits on new exploration and production.
Reporters made several attempts Saturday to reach company officials in New York for comment, but there was no answer.
Dante la Gatta, Belco's general manager in Peru, turned over the company's principal documents to Alfredo Carranza, president of Petroperu's board of directors, in a brief ceremony Saturday morning at the company's headquarters in the upper-class neighborhoood of San Isidro.
"What is important now is that Belco's production continues flowing normally," Carranza said.
La Gatta said Belco was producing 24,000 barrels a day from its wells, down from 29,000 barrels daily when Garcia canceled its contract in August.
The official news agency Andina said Petroperu's general manager, Carlos Lizier, took control of Belco assets Saturday in Zorritos, a town 770 miles northwest of Lima, which is operational headquarters for the 111 offshore production rigs that Belco operates off the Pacific coast.