Chavez Threatens to End Oil Exports to U.S. in 'Economic War'

Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt
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Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has threatened to cease all exports of oil to the United States if ExxonMobil wins its court case to seize $12 billion dollars in Venezuelan assets. ExxonMobil made the move last week through a British court, challenging Venezuela's recent nationalization of the Orinoco oil project.

When Venezuela initiated the nationalization of the Orinoco project, it offered to renew the contracts of the oil companies operating in the project. BP, Chevron, StatoilHydro and Total signed agreements to operate as minority partners in the project.

During his weekly radio and television address program, Chavez referred to ExxonMobil as "outlaws," calling U.S. President George Bush "Mr. Danger." Chavez said the U.S.-based company's actions constituted an "economic war," claiming that the "master" of the U.S. "empire," the American people, will be the ones who suffer because they will not "receive one drop of oil" from Venezuela. ConocoPhillips also failed to reach an agreement with the South American country.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Venezuela is the fourth-largest oil importer of the United States. The U.S. imports 1.2 million bbl/d from Venezuela.

ExxonMobil was unavailable for comment.

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