Puerto de la Cruz, Venezuela
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez this week abruptly raised taxes on foreign oil companies from 1 percent to 17 percent, squeezing them as world oil prices reached record levels. Chavez said he was honoring a pledge to share the nation’s oil wealth with the poor. Venezuela lowered the rate in the 1990s to encourage drilling projects in abundant fields along the Orinoco River. Chavez gave no advance notice to Exxon Mobil and other companies affected by the hike, saying Venezuelan crude remained a bargain compared with prices elsewhere. “We are no longer going to give away our oil,” Chavez said. The effects could soon be felt at U.S. gas pumps; Venezuela is the U.S.’s fourth-largest supplier of oil.
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