Venezuela boosts control over petrochemicals
June 17, 2009
According to the Associated Press, lawmakers loyal to President Hugo Chavez gave final approval on to a bill paving the way for Venezuela''s government to take a minimum 50 percent stake in the country''s petrochemical companies. The legislation approved by the predominantly pro-Chavez National Assembly requires private firms to form joint ventures with the state, which would take a minimum 50 percent stake in the projects. The newly approved legislation will create jobs and boost the aggregate value of the country’s hydrocarbons. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based chemical maker FMC Corp., Colombia''s state oil company Ecopetrol, Japan''s Mitsubishi Corporation and LyondellBasell Industries of the Netherlands are among the foreign petrochemical companies operating in Venezuela. Approval of the bill is Venezuela''s latest initiative to increase the state''s role in the economy as Chavez steers his country toward what he calls "21st-century socialism." Chavez has nationalized major steel, cement, electricity and telecommunications companies in recent years. In the last month, the government has seized dozens oil contracting firms including gas compression and water injection facilities, supply boats, dry docks and barges used in oil-rich Lake Maracaibo. Critics warn Chavez is scaring off foreign investment.