Oil chamber: PDVSA Retaliates Against Private Companies

The new managers at Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA are retaliating against private companies allegedly involved in the national oil strike at the end of last year, according to Jose Antonio Perez, oil chamber executive and president of oil services company Energy Dynamics.

PDVSA is denying these companies new contracts and refusing to extend their existing ones, Perez told BNamericas. PDVSA has denied its own company Energy Dynamics de Venezuela - which offers gas compressor maintenance - contracts in recent weeks, Perez said. "Nobody says it's true, but it's happening and it's damaging the national private sector, which has been trying to develop the oil industry in parallel with PDVSA," said Perez, who is president of the oil chamber's Anzoategui state chapter. "This is happening in various regions, and at the oil chamber level we are very worried because we don't see it as the correct way to solve things," Perez said. "It's not good for anyone, because our companies are trying to help normalize the production and this type of position does not help anyone," he said. "We, as business people, are here to do business, not to get involved in politics," he said, adding, "Politics mixed with business makes for a bad cocktail." PDVSA should stop retaliation immediately if it wants to be successful in its plans to attract private investment in the oil industry, he said, adding that both local and foreign companies have been affected.

PDVSA management was accused of supporting the two-month general strike that started at the end of 2002 to oust President Hugo Chavez. The strike ended in late January, and in February Chavez fired about 18,000 workers and replaced top management officials with close friends and political allies. For that reason PDVSA is unlikely to support the current campaign by Chavez's political opponents to hold a referendum and eject him democratically.

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