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Chávez triumphant

Foreign oil companies that invested over $10bn in 32 field-operating contracts in the country during the apertura petrolera have meekly acquiesced to the forced migration to tough new terms. The next target could be four massive synthetic-oil projects, as Venezuela tightens its grip on the oil and gas sector, writes Robert Olson

AFTER A YEAR of turmoil, the government has battered its partners in 32 oilfield-operating contracts into abandoning the Operating Service Agreements (OSAs) that governed their relationship with the government and the state-owned oil company, PdV. They must now form new joint ventures with PdV to operate the fields. Despite the terms of the proposed joint ventures being far from clear, the companies – with the notable exception of ExxonMobil – agreed to abandon the OSAs at the end of 2005 and to enter legal limbo while they negotiated the final terms of the new deal. That the companies that began the year vowing not to give up their contracts have fallen into line with the government, with

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