Lawmaker: Assembly Open to Orinoco Nationalization Move

Venezuelan pro-government lawmaker Rodrigo Cabezas says he and fellow colleagues in the national assembly would be open to a move from energy and oil ministry (MEP) to nationalize certain Orinoco crude belt projects.

The government has a majority in the unicameral assembly.

"If at some point, at [the ministry's] request, it becomes necessary to approve a law to nationalize the oil belt to attain the majority in equity, we would be ready to go along with the executive," Cabezas told BNamericas.

Cabezas was referring to four projects that collectively produce 600,000 barrels a day (b/d) of crude in the Orinoco: Ameriven, Cerro Negro, Sincor and Petrozuata.

State oil company PDVSA has stakes in all four projects, but not the minimum 51% participation mandated by the 2004 hydrocarbons law that came into effect years after the projects were formed.

If PDVSA wants at least 60% in the projects, nationalization may be the only way, Cabezas said.

For instance, PDVSA has 40% of Ameriven, where it partners with US oil majors ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX). PDVSA has 41.67% in Cerro Negro, where it partners with ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) and the UK's BP (NYSE: BP).

In Sincor, PDVSA has 38% to the 47% held by France's Total (NYSE: TOT), with Norway's Statoil (NYSE: STO) owning the rest. PDVSA has 49.9% in Petrozuata with ConocoPhillips.

MEP did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

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