Tax Authority Fines Petro, Closes it for 48 Hours

Venezuela's tax authority Seniat has levied a fine against the local representative of Petro-Canada (TSX: PCA), Petro Canada La Ceiba GMBH, and closed its offices for 48 hours, state news agency ABN reported.

The infraction cited was "non-compliance of formal duties," meaning the company failed to produce every bill and invoice as demanded by Seniat. The fine was for roughly 3mn bolivares (US$1,400), a Seniat spokesperson told BNamericas.

Seniat commonly shuts down a company's offices for up to 48 hours. Even PDVSA Gas, a unit of state oil firm PDVSA, suffered the same fate last year.

Petro Canada La Ceiba and US oil major ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) hold a 50:50 joint venture, Agencia Operadora La Ceiba, which operates the La Ceiba field in western Venezuela's Zulia state.

La Ceiba declared commerciality in 2005 and was producing some 6,000 barrels a day in early 2006, when the country's energy and oil ministry (MEP) ordered the field to cease production. The government wants the JV's structure to be altered so that it can have a 51% stake as mandated in a new law.

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