Venezuela Declares Force Majeure

Venezuela has declared a force majeure for petroleum products because of the general strike that has been called. Operations at most PDVSA facilities have either halted or severely cut back, since workers, managers, and administrative personnel have joined the walkout. There are several tankers that are anchored offshore unable to load cargoes due to a halt in necessary loading instructions. There are also tankers that have dropped anchor and are refusing to move on in support of the strike. As a result of this action President Hugo Chavez has ordered the Navy to take control of the tankers, declaring that the captains are pirates.

Opposition leaders launched the walkout to force the government into accepting an immediate non-binding referendum on Mr. Chavez's leadership, which the National Electoral Council has set for Feb. 2. Mr. Chavez has said the constitution doesn't require him to accept the results of any referendum held before next August, the midpoint of his term.