ITWASSOOTED: <strong><span style="color:#cc6600;">Venezuela Oil Fields Back in State Control</span></strong>

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Venezuela Oil Fields Back in State Control

Associated Press
Venezuela Oil Fields Back in State Control
By JORGE RUEDA , 01.01.2006, 03:32 PM

Venezuelan oil minister Rafael Ramirez on Sunday applauded the return of state control over 32 privately operated oil fields with the start of the new year.

Ramirez said in a statement that Venezuela has successfully completed "the recovery" of the 32 fields whose control was ceded to private hands in the 1990s under concessions allowing companies to independently pump oil under contract.

A deadline to agree to convert those operating agreements into joint ventures in which the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) will hold a controlling stake expired at midnight on Dec. 31.

The 32 operating agreements were signed between 1990 and 1997 during the opening of Venezuela's petroleum industry to private and foreign capital. The objective at the time - when the price of crude was below $10 a barrel - was to increase production at low-priority oil fields which were closed due to their location or a lack of resources, and which PDVSA had no plans to reactivate using its own resources.

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