Venezuela Warns Energy Firms of Additional Taxes

After weeks of revamped oil contracts with foreign companies, a Venezuela's oil official warned this week that promises to hold oil taxes steady over the next five years were "not binding."

Deputy Oil Minister Bernard Mommer said promises made by the government after recent oil tax increases were no guarantee that the country would not raise them again sometime in the next five years.

"The only guarantee you have is political," said Mommer in London. "The government can promise you whatever they want -- it's not binding."

The moves are part of a larger effort by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to establish greater control over the country's oil deposits (Catan/Webb-Vidal, Financial Times, April 10).

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