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Oil firms to cede control, Venezuela says

March 09, 2007|From Times Wire Services

CARACAS, VENEZUELA — All foreign companies operating huge crude projects in Venezuela's Orinoco reserve have agreed to cede operational control to the state, Venezuela's oil company said, another step in President Hugo Chavez's nationalization push.

State oil company Petroleos de Venezuela said Thursday that U.S. companies Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips agreed to meet a May 1 deadline decreed by Chavez to hand over operations to PDVSA in two of the four targeted projects. Norway's Statoil quickly followed suit, saying the project that it operates with France's Total would pass to PDVSA too.

The companies will form transition committees to oversee the handover of their multibillion-dollar projects' operations in the OPEC nation. Exxon Mobil Corp., the only other foreign company involved in the projects, agreed Monday to form such a body.

Spokesmen for Chevron of San Ramon, Calif., and ConocoPhillips of Houston didn't return calls seeking comment.

The Orinoco projects turn tar-like oil into synthetic crude.

Reuters and Bloomberg News were used in compiling this report.

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