Venezuela doesn’t plan to halt sending oil to US: Chavez


Caracas : President Hugo Chavez has said his country has no plans to halt oil exports to the US as long as the latter doesn’t launch an attack on Venezuela.

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“We have no plans to stop sending oil to the US, but exports to that country will be suspended if it attacks us and tries to harm us,” Chavez said, referring to his dispute with US oil major ExxonMobil Corp during his weekend broadcast Alo Presidente, Spain’s EFE news agency reported Monday.

In the same show last week, Chavez said Venezuela was ready to stop shipments to the US in response to ExxonMobil’s announcement that it would freeze $12 billion worth assets belonging to Venezuela’s state-run oil company Petroleos (PDVSA).

Earlier this month the US oil firm secured court orders in the US, Britain and the Netherlands to freeze the assets.

ExxonMobil is seeking compensation for its forced exit from the Orinoco Petroliferous Strip, as a result of the Venezuelan government’s 2007 decision to raise its stake in the nation’s oil operations to 85 percent from around 45 percent earlier.

Chavez forced all foreign oil companies to transfer about 60 percent of their business in Venezuela to PDVSA.

Many companies like TotalFinaElf of France, Statoil of Norway, BP of Britain and Chevron of the US accepted the new conditions. But ExxonMobil and the third-largest US oil firm, Conoco Phillips, sought international arbitrage and withdrew from the country.

The Orinoco Petroliferous Strip has 235 billion barrels of petrol in deposits, which Chavez estimated as equivalent to 200 years’ worth of oil. It produces around 600,000 barrels a day.