Venezuela will not reform oil law this year, socialist lawmaker says

Reuters   15/09/2021 21:54

CARACAS, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s National Assembly, controlled by allies of socialist President Nicolas Maduro, will not reform the OPEC country’s key hydrocarbons law this year, the president of the Assembly’s energy and oil committee said on Wednesday.

Maduro said earlier this year that the Assembly would consider reforms to the legislation that would allow for “new business models,” after a collapse in crude output due to years of underinvestment and mismanagement and, more recently, U.S. sanctions aimed at Maduro’s ouster.

But Angel Rodriguez, a lawmaker from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela who leads the committee, said his colleagues needed more time to evaluate proposals, receive comments from interested parties, and debate.

“The hydrocarbons law is still on the agenda, but we are receiving the proposals,” Rodriguez told Reuters following a committee meeting. “I don’t think there will be a reform this year.”

The South American country’s opposition has long advocated a greater role for the private sector in the industry, which is dominated by state oil company PDVSA. The current law requires PDVSA to have a majority stake in oilfield joint ventures with private and foreign partners, and grants the company a monopoly on exports.

In July, France’s TotalEnergies and Norway’s Equinor returned their shares in Petrocedeno - one of Venezuela’s most important joint ventures - to PDVSA, becoming the latest in a long string of multinational firms to reduce their presence in the country amid an economic collapse. (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago Writing by Luc Cohen and Alistair Bell)

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