Venezuela threatens ConocoPhillips with lawsuit
September 23, 2009
The Associated Press reports that the Venezuelan government is considering a lawsuit against U.S. oil giant ConocoPhillips for seeking Venezuela''s stake in a Texas oil refinery. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said a legal team representing the state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, could file a lawsuit against ConocoPhillips for exercising an option to purchase PDVSA''s 50 percent stake in the Sweeny, Texas, refinery. ConocoPhillips argues that PDVSA has failed to deliver heavy crude as required under contract to the refinery since the beginning of the year, prompting the Houston-based company to notify PDVSA that it would exercise the option under a joint venture agreement. PDVSA says it stopped shipping 166,000 barrels of oil a day to the refinery in January to comply with production quotas established by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. PDVSA and ConocoPhillips have been negotiating since 2007 to set compensation for Venezuela''s nationalization of joint oil projects in the South American country''s petroleum-rich Orinoco River basin. ConocoPhillips refused to sign an agreement in 2007 to continue pumping oil under tougher terms posed by Chavez''s government.