Today - "Can you loan me a shovel?"
President Hugo Chávez, buffeted by falling oil prices that threaten to damage his efforts to establish a Socialist-inspired state, is quietly courting Western oil companies once again.Hugo Chávez - What a great world neighbor.
Until recently, Chávez had pushed foreign oil companies here into a corner by nationalizing their oil fields, raiding their offices with tax authorities and imposing a series of royalties increases. But faced with the plunge in prices and a decline in domestic production, senior officials here have begun soliciting bids from some of the largest Western oil companies in recent weeks . . .
Chávez's olive branch to Western oil companies comes after he nationalized their oil fields in 2007. Two companies, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, left Venezuela and are still waging legal battles over lost projects.Um, yea; you know how I screwed you over last time? I wonder if we can try again.
"An agreement on a piece of paper means nothing in Venezuela because of the way Chávez abruptly changes the rules of the game," said a Venezuelan oil executive who has had dealings with oil companies from China, Russia and other countries.
"Chávez is celebrating the demise of capitalism as this international crisis unfolds," said Pedro Mario Burelli, a former board member of Petróleos de Venezuela. "But the irony is that capitalism actually fed his system in times of plenty," he said. "That is something Chávez will discover the hard way."