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February 8, 2008
Court Freezes $12 billion in Venezuela assets
Hugo Chavez's seizure last year of a huge oil project in the name of the state has not come without costs. US oil giant Exxon has sued Venezuela to recover costs from the project and a judge has agreed to freeze Venezuelan national assets:
The company said it has received court orders in Britain, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles each freezing up to $12 billion in assets of Venezuela state oil firm PDVSA. An Exxon spokeswoman said the total that could be frozen worldwide was $12 billion. Making Chavez pay for his stealing is the only way to discourage this sort of theing worldwide. If a country wants to switch to a socialist state where all the assets are owned by the government, that's fine - as long as they pay companies for what they built.
Exxon also won a court order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in December freezing more than $300 million belonging to PDVSA, as Exxon argued it would have little chance to recoup its investment from PDVSA should it win its arbitration.
PDVSA, one of the largest suppliers of crude oil to the United States, was not immediately available for comment. The South American nation has an extensive overseas refining network, including the Citgo refining and marketing branch in the United States.
Meanwhile, Venezuela oil production continues to decline. But as long as prices stay high, Chavez should have plenty of cash to make his mischief in South America.