PDVSA Could Have 47,000 Workers by May 1

Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA could see its ranks swell to 47,000 by May 1 if President Hugo Chavez makes good on his promise to place four large-scale oil projects squarely under government control, website Multipuerta reported.

The four Orinoco heavy crude upgrade projects - Ameriven, Cerro Negro, Sincor and Petrozuata - employ approximately 4,000 workers.

PDVSA normally has 35,000 workers on its payroll, a number that can swell to 40,000 depending on seasonal work or new projects. However, the number has been growing steadily as PDVSA has absorbed oil fields from private companies like it did last year with the operations of French oil firm Total (NYSE: TOT), the report said.

The report said PDVSA had 43,000 employees as of last October compared to 20,000 mainly unskilled workers in early 2003 after President Hugo Chavez fired many managers and senior staff following a strike.

Foreign partners of PDVSA in the Orinoco projects include BP (NYSE: BP), ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), Chevron (NYSE: CVX), ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), Total and Statoil (NYSE: STA).

May 1 is the deadline set by the government to take over the projects, in which PDVSA already has about 40%.

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