Chavez Says He Will Sign Exploration Agreements

According to a broadcast on Venezuelan national television, President Hugo Chavez said that he intends to award exploration licenses for five blocks located in the Deltana Platform region offshore the eastern coast next Monday or Tuesday. "Next Monday or Tuesday I will hand over the production licenses for the immense gas reserves we have in the Venezuelan Atlantic in the Deltana Platform," Chavez said

The awards will take place amid an eight-week-old opposition strike aimed at forcing Chavez to resign and call early elections. The strike has forced Chavez to prepare currency controls and impose a huge budget cut of state oil company PDVSA, which had intended to be a major equity partner in the licenses.