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September 26th, 2006:

Email to Jeroen van der Veer: the Sakhalin II crisis

Dear Mr Van der Veer

Can I please press you to clear up the confusion over the projected cost of the Sakhalin II project? My father, Alfred Donovan, raised this vitally important issue in his email to you yesterday (Email to Jeroen van der Veer: Resolving the Sakhalin II impasse).

It is imperative because the current crisis has come about as a result of the doubling of costs from $10 billion to £20 billion. The Putin government is understandably concerned that the date when revenues are going to start flowing to Russian state coffers from the Sakhalin II PSA will now be delayed by many years.  

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Regnum – Moscow, Russia: Sakhalin Energy expects Oleg Mitvol’s check

On September 27-30, activists of ecological NGOs will visit Sakhalin region to assess the ecological situation in the region. Rosprirodnadzor (Russian federal environment protection agency) Deputy Head Oleg Mitvol will take part in the visit, REGNUM was informed at the ministry of natural resources.

It is planned that helicopters with the delegation aboard will fly over objects of infrastructure that are being constructed as part of the Shell Company’s Sakhalin 2 Project. Oleg Mitvol will meet with representatives of the Sakhalin Energy Company and attend session on environment protection in the framework of the “Oil and Gas of Sakhalin 2006” Conference.

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RosBusinessConsulting: Federation Council to examine Sakhalin-2 project agreement

RBC, 26.09.2006, Moscow 18:27:59.

The Russian Federation Council has instructed the concerned committees to clear up the situation surrounding the Sakhalin-2 project.

Thus, the Federation council instructed the Committee for Economy, Business and Property and the Committee for Science, Culture, Education, Healthcare and Environment to work out the issue.

 The Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov said that the deputies would need to find out what the conditions of the project agreement were and if Russia’s interests were being observed. Also, the senators are concerned whether the rights of the Western investors are being protected and whether environment legislation is being followed.

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Bloomberg: Russia Delays Shell Cancellation Threat to Oct. 20 (Update2)

By Torrey Clark

Sept. 26 (Bloomberg) — Russia gave Royal Dutch Shell Plc almost a month to remedy violations at the $22 billion Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project, before the government decides whether to cancel a key permit for the development.

Shell must respond to government requests for proposals on fixing environmental and safety problems, Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said today in Moscow. His ministry yesterday started a review of Sakhalin-2 that will conclude on Oct. 20, after which it will decide whether Shell can finish building pipelines and a plant to liquefy natural gas.

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The St. Petersburg Times: France Demands Total Support Over Oil License

Reuters
26 September 2006
 
PARIS — France hopes Russia will allow energy company Total to continue with its production sharing agreement in Western Siberia, Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Sunday.The Vremya Novostei newspaper on Friday quoted a source close to Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry as saying that it was only a matter of time before Total’s PSA (production sharing agreement) license for the Kharyaga project was withdrawn.

Asked whether France had received any guarantees, Douste-Blazy said: “To my knowledge no, but I really hope that the good relations between France and Russia translate very quickly into the possibility for Total to continue its whole program in Russia.”

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Reuters: Russia calls time-out in campaign against Shell

26 Sep 2006 16:14:19 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Elif Kaban and Gleb Bryanski

MOSCOW, Sept 26 (Reuters) – Russia called a time-out on Tuesday in its campaign against environmental violations and cost overruns at Royal Dutch Shell’s Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project after strong criticism from foreign governments.

In an announcement likely to ease tension, Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said work on the giant offshore project in Russia’s Far East could continue while a full-scale ecological probe, due to start on Oct. 25 and last a month, is held.

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BBC News: New deadline for Sakhalin project

Sakhalin II

26 Sept 2006

Russia has said it will delay halting Shell’s $20bn (£10.5bn) gas and oil project off of its Pacific coast while it conducts a new environmental study.

Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said the probe may take up to a month.

Russian authorities have threatened to revoke the project’s licence if concerns over its impact on the local environment are not addressed.

Analysts have suggested the move is a bargaining tool aimed at securing a Russian role in the Sakhalin 2 project.

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AFX News: EBRD delays decision on Sakhalin-2 while situation remains unclear

26 September 2006

LONDON (AFX) – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which should have given its decision on financing for the Shell-led Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project this summer, said that it would delay its decision while the Russian legal position remained unclear.

Current uncertainty over the project ‘does not allow the EBRD to progress’ over the matter, a spokeswoman for the bank told AFP.

Russia has threatened to halt the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas development project off Russia’s Pacific coast unless the Anglo-Dutch group Shell corrected environmental damage done to the site.

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Bloomberg: Russia Delays Shell Cancellation Threat to Oct. 20 (Update1)

By Torrey Clark

Sept. 26 (Bloomberg) — Russia gave Royal Dutch Shell Plc almost a month to remedy violations at the $22 billion Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project, before the government decides whether to cancel a key permit for the development.

Shell must respond to government requests for proposals on fixing environmental and safety problems, Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said today in Moscow. His ministry yesterday started a review of Sakhalin-2 that will conclude on Oct. 20, after which it will decide whether Shell can finish building pipelines and a plant to liquefy natural gas.

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The Houston Chronicle: Russian Auditors Query Shell Gas Project

By ALEX NICHOLSON AP Business Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press
26 September 2006

MOSCOW — Russian authorities will try to avoid shutting down a Shell-led liquefied gas project off the eastern island of Sakhalin, the natural resources minister said Tuesday. But the minister, Yuri Trutnev, warned that the project was riddled with serious environmental violations.

A final decision on whether to withdraw a key license at the Sakhalin-2 project will be made by the ministry within a month after experts from a state environmental safety watchdog complete an audit, Trutnev said. The auditors headed to the region Tuesday.

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Reuters: Russian politicians emphasise Shell’s rights

Tue Sep 26, 2006

MOSCOW, Sept 26 (Reuters) – The speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament and the governor of Sakhalin island on Tuesday emphasised the economic rights of the Shell-led (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) Sakhalin-2 project, which has been under fire from Moscow.

Their comments offered encouragement to the oil and gas project after it came under attack from other Russian officials for doubling its costs to $20 billion and the Natural Resources Ministry ordered a major environmental investigation.

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theage (Australia): Russian squeeze on Shell sparks UK response

Blair Putin face off

Wednesday 27 September 2006

THE British Government has raised concerns with Russian President Vladimir Putin over last week’s withdrawal of Shell’s permit to develop the £10 billion ($A25 billion) Sakhalin-2 energy project, suggesting the move could spark a diplomatic row.

Approval by the Russian Natural Resources Ministry for Shell’s liquefied natural gas project on Sakhalin Island, in the far east of Russia, was abruptly withdrawn last week on environmental grounds.

A spokesman for the British Prime Minister’s office said on Monday that “the Government is raising its concerns about the decision with the Russian Government. Downing Street is following this very closely”.

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International Herald Tribune: Russian minister: Decision on license for Shell-led Sakhalin project to be made within 1 month

The Associated Press
Published: September 26, 2006
 
MOSCOW Russian authorities will try to avoid shutting down a Shell-led liquefied gas project off the far eastern island of Sakhalin, the natural resources minister said Tuesday.
 
But Yuri Trutnev warned that the project was riddled with serious environmental violations that need to be addressed so that it may continue.
 
A final decision on whether to withdraw a key license at the Sakhalin-2 will be made by the ministry within one month after experts from a state environmental safety watchdog complete their audit of the project, he said. The auditors headed to the region Tuesday.
 
“We must to everything possible to resolve this situation without stopping the project,” Trutnev said at a news conference. He added, however, that if environmental concerns aren’t properly addressed, the project will have to stop.
 
Trutnev’s ministry said last week that it would revoke the permit at Sakhalin-2 which is being developed by Sakhlain Energy, a consortium led by Shell.
 
Plans to revoke its environmental permit would freeze work for 17 months and lead to 15,000 lost jobs, said Igor Ignatyev, Sakhalin Energy’s vice president for corporate affairs.
 
“If it is signed, it will have irreversible effects,” Ignatyev said on Ekho Moskvy radio. “I have the sense that the people who take these steps don’t know what the legal consequences of this might be.”
 
Ignatyev said the decision, if confirmed, would lead to mass layoffs and would see 3,500 permits and licenses annulled. “It’s not the kind of exercise where you say ‘no today I canceled it, tomorrow I’ll sign it again.’ The consequences are very serious and irrevocable.”
 
Analysts have suggested the ministry’s move is a bargaining tool aimed at securing more favorable conditions for state gas monopoly Gazprom, which is in negotiations to join the project.
 
Ignatyev did not comment directly on that issue, but noted “there are a lot of coincidences.”
 
There has been pressure on a number of foreign-controlled energy projects that observers say is an attempt to secure a bigger role for Russian companies.

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UPI: Analysis: Western access to Russian field?

By STEFAN NICOLA
UPI Correspondent

BERLIN, Sept. 26 (UPI) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Europe may be allowed to tap into one of Russia’s largest natural gas fields, an apparent move to soothe European concerns over energy security.

In a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Jacques Chirac near Paris, Putin said the gas reserves at the bottom of the Barents Sea (the Shtokman field), could be made accessible to European customers.

Russia exports roughly 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Germany, with the Shtokman field able to bring another 25 billion to 45 billion cubic meters online, Putin said, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

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unison.ie: Protestors prevent resumption of work at Corrib site

13:48 Tuesday September 26th 2006 

Up to 100 protestors have blocked the entrance to the site of the proposed Corrib gas terminal in Co Mayo this morning.

The demonstrators prevented a group of construction workers from entering the land at Bellanaboy to resume work on the controversial facility.

Despite requests from Gardai, they refused to budge and the employees were eventually advised to leave.

Work on the Corrib terminal was due to restart this morning after being held up for a year due to the ongoing dispute over the pipeline bringing gas onshore from the Corrib field.

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This Day (Lagos): Nigeria: Shell Battles Fire in Oil Well

September 26, 2006
Posted to the web September 26, 2006
Crusoe Osagie, Lagos

Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) yesterday stated that it was still battling to put out a fire ravaging its oil well in southern Rivers State, more than one month after.

The fire on Yorla Well -13, located in Ogoni communities, which was first reported on August 14, had further heightened the disagreement between the communities and Shell.
   
The company stated: “The Shell Petroleum Develop-ment Company of Nigeria wishes to reassure the neighbouring Ogoni communities, the Rivers State Government and the general public that it is doing everything possible to put out the fire on Yorla Well -13 in Rivers State.

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Bloomberg: Protesters Stop Shell Working on Irish Gas Terminal (Update1)

By Fergal O’Brien

Sept. 26 (Bloomberg) — Protesters kept Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company by market value, from resuming work on a gas terminal in western Ireland that’s already been delayed by more than a year.

Workers couldn’t go onto the site today because of a protest, Susan Shannon, a spokeswoman for Shell Exploration and Production Ireland, said by phone. Dublin-based broadcaster RTE said on its Web site about 100 people blocked the entrance to the terminal. A number of police officers are standing between the protesters and workers, it said.

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thetidenews.com: Nigeria: FG, SPDC owe Oloibiri community – Chief Asara

Fyneface Aaron • Tuesday, Sep 26, 2006

The need to develop Oloibiri community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State is a debt that would continue to haunt successive Nigerian governments and the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Special adviser to the Bayelsa State Governor on Political Matters, Chief Asara O. Asara, made the declaration while presenting a keynote address during the opening of a two-day orientation programme organised by the Oloibiri Youth Congress to curb militancy in the area.

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Reuters: Shell says no official word yet on Sakhalin probe

Tue Sep 26, 2006 12:23 PM BST

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil major Royal Dutch Shell has yet to receive official word of a full environmental probe of its $20 billion (10.5 billion pound) Sakhalin-2 project in Russia’s Far East and work is continuing, a Shell spokesman said on Tuesday.

The head of Russia’s environmental agency RosPrirodNadzor on Monday ordered a full investigation into the Shell-led project, sparking fears the Kremlin is seeking tighter control.

“To the best of my knowledge, there has been no official notification of this audit,” the Shell spokesman said. “Work is continuing as normal.”

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Mayo News: Shell move in to Bellanaboy

Tuesday, 26 September 2006 
Áine Ryan
 
AFTER weeks of speculation, and an absence of over a year, Shell returned to work at the controversial Bellanaboy terminal site early yesterday (Tuesday) morning. A large gathering of protesters, from all over the county, was expected to assemble at the site from shortly after 5.30am.

Gardaí confirmed to The Mayo News on Monday morning that they received notification of Shell’s intention to recommence work at the proposed terminal site on Tuesday. Later in the afternoon, Shell confirmed their intentions.

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inthenews.co.uk: Environmental obligations ‘violated’ at Sakhalin

Tuesday, 26 Sep 2006
 
A number of environmental obligations were violated in the oil and natural gas development project off Sakhalin island, according to the Russian foreign minister.

Sergei Lavrov said British-Dutch Shell and Japanese firms Mitsui and Mitsubishi caused erosion and problems in wastewater treatment at the Sakhalin-2 project.

The Russian natural resources ministry last week revoked permits for the $20 billion (£10.5 billion) project off the Pacific Ocean island of Sakhalin.

Speaking to journalists in New York, Mr Lavrov urged the Sakhalin-2 operator, Sakhalin Energy, led by Shell, to fulfil its obligations.

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UpstreamOnline: Protestors blockade Royal Dutch Shell Corrib site

By Upstream staff

A group of 100 protestors has blocked the entrance to the site of the proposed onshore Corrib gas pipeline terminal at Bellanaboy, County Mayo, Irish media has reported.

State broadcaster RTE said the protestors prevented a group of construction workers from entering the site to resume work after an absence of a year.

The Shell to Sea group said it was determined to continue with the protest and was not prepared to allow the workers onto the site.

A Shell spokesman told RTE the company was disappointed that it had been prevented from getting 70 construction workers onto the site.

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RIA Novosti: Upper chamber to consider situation around Sakhalin II

14:32 | 26/ 09/ 2006 

MOSCOW, September 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s upper chamber of parliament ordered its committees Tuesday to examine the situation around the massive Sakhalin II energy project, off the country’s Pacific coast.

Environmentalists have consistently raised concerns over Sakhalin II, and the Ministry of Natural Resources annulled its approval of a 2003 environmental study of the project last Monday after prosecutors protested the original endorsement.

The move puts in jeopardy contracts with Japan, South Korea and the United States on deliveries of LNG, due to go into effect in 2008.

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UpstreamOnline: Shell eyes Turkish pipe deal

26 September 2006

By Upstream staff

Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell has signed a deal with Turkey’s Calik Energy and Italy’s Eni on its possible participation in a key Turkish oil pipeline project, it said today.

The pipeline will carry oil between the Black Sea town of Samsun and the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, bypassing the Bosphorus.

“This bypass project will reduce the heavy tanker traffic in the straits and will have the role of a sustainable export corridor for the delivery of crude from Russia and the Caspian region which is expected to keep increasing,” the statement said.

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Daily Mail: Pump price war as crude slumps

Sam Fleming,
26 September 2006

A price war erupted at petrol pumps and energy shares tumbled after the cost of oil plunged to a seven-month low. 

News of the early restoration of output at Alaska’s biggest field and hopes that sanctions against Iran will be avoided, sparked the tumble.

Oil has slumped by more than $17 a barrel since early August, its sharpest decline in more than 15 years.

Signs of a benign hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico also helped push the cost of a barrel of Brent crude to $59.50 during the day. It later recovered to finish at $60.50.

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UpstreamOnline: West ‘overreacted’ to Kremlin moves

By Upstream staff
26 September 2006

Western governments have overreacted to Russian concerns about a massive foreign energy project here because the legal basis for the development is not under question, a Kremlin source said today.

Moves by Moscow to strip the massive Shell-led Sakhalin 2 oil and gas project of its environmental permits and hostile moves towards other big oil projects led by BP and ExxonMobil have prompted an angry reaction from Western governments, Reuters reported.

Top officials from Britain, Japan and the Netherlands have expressed their strong displeasure. Diplomats here have vowed to “prevent another Yukos” – a reference to the Kremlin-led campaign which forced privately owned Russian oil company Yukos into bankruptcy and jailed its owner.

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The Daily Telegraph: Database: Tuesday 26 September 2006

(Filed: 26/09/2006)

Legal

• BP’s Russian venture OAO TNK-BP was warned by prosecutors it could lose its permit to develop the $18bn Kovykta natural-gas field in Siberia over licence and environmental violations.

Energy

• The UK energy regulator proposes to allow the country’s natural-gas network operators to raise transportation charges by 9.7pc because of higher wholesale gas prices and pension costs for the grid operators.

• Royal Dutch Shell ‘s Sakhalin unit signed letters of intent, worth $100m each, with two service companies to work on an oil and gas project for which the Russian government may cancel a key permit.

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Daily Telegraph: Add oil, and a price dip is suddenly a slippery slope

EXTRACT: Since the end of July, the share price of Royal Dutch Shell has slumped by 11pc…

THE ARTICLE

(Filed: 26/09/2006)

As prices plunge to their lowest levels in months, the effects are being felt well beyond the trading floors, writes Tom Stevenson

Oil prices tumble over fears of US recession

If you were looking for a reason not to jump on the commodities bandwagon, you will have found it in the 23pc fall in the price of oil in the past six weeks. The unpredictable market in black gold is not for the faint of heart.

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Bloomberg: Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Banning Pension Fund Money in Sudan

By Michael B. Marois

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) — California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law banning the state’s two public pension funds, with $350 billion in assets, from investing in companies that do business in Sudan.

The law prohibits the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. public pension fund, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the second-largest fund, and the University of California Regents from investing in any company with active business operations in Sudan. The law also forbids the funds from investing in a company that supplies military equipment within the borders of Sudan.

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BBC News: Russia’s Sakhalin stance queried

Sakhalin II

Russia is under growing international pressure to explain its stance on the Sakhalin-2 energy project amid a political row about its development.

Russian officials have launched a full environmental review of the $20bn oil and gas scheme led by Shell, having withdrawn a key permit this month.

British, Dutch, Japanese and US officials have raised concerns about the project’s long-term prospects.

Critics say Moscow wants to muscle in on the strategically-important scheme.

Questions asked

Due to be finished in 2008, Sakhalin-2 will be the largest integrated oil and gas field in the world.

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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: September 25, 2006 5:27 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
September 25, 2006 5:27 p.m.

After falling below $60 in early trading, crude-oil futures rebounded sharply, settling at $61.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after the head of OPEC suggested the cartel could cut production to put a floor under prices, which have tumbled 20% since a mid-July peak. Here is Monday’s roundup of oil and energy news.

* * *
MERGER MONDAY: It was a busy day for deals in the energy sector. In the biggest, U.K. oil-and-gas explorer Tullow Oil agreed to buy Australia’s Hardman Resources for about $1.1 billion to boost its reserves, Bloomberg reports. New York’s Overseas Shipholding Group agreed to acquire rival crude-oil and petroleum-product shipping company Maritrans in a deal valued at $455 million. No word on whether Tampa, Fla.-based Maritrans’ ticker symbol, TUG, would survive the merger. Louisiana-based oilfield-services company Superior Energy Services said it agreed to buy Mississippi rival Warrior Energy Services for about $358 million in cash and stock. Warrior shares surged 69% on the news.

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The St. Petersburg Times: France Demands Total Support Over Oil License

Reuters
 
PARIS — France hopes Russia will allow energy company Total to continue with its production sharing agreement in Western Siberia, Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Sunday.The Vremya Novostei newspaper on Friday quoted a source close to Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry as saying that it was only a matter of time before Total’s PSA (production sharing agreement) license for the Kharyaga project was withdrawn.

Asked whether France had received any guarantees, Douste-Blazy said: “To my knowledge no, but I really hope that the good relations between France and Russia translate very quickly into the possibility for Total to continue its whole program in Russia.”

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The Jakarta Post: When Pertamina no longer holds monopoly

A. Hamzah, Contributor, Jakarta

“Pertamina calls on you to become a Pertamina gas station owner as a token of participation in national development.”

You may be puzzled by this call, which can be found on Pertamina’s website. Why does an oil company of Pertamina’s class link the retail gasoline business with nationalism when the government has given its blessing to the operation of foreign gas stations in Indonesia? Does it mean that in Pertamina’s view the government lacks nationalism?

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SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Chavez putting up a fight to get even bigger stake in oil Venezuela’s rich reserves give it bargaining power

By ROBERT COLLIER
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

El Tigre, Venezuela — On the hot, shrub-covered plains around this dusty, dingy town, an odd courtship is being carried out between the world’s most prominent revolutionary and the world’s biggest oil companies.

Just as there is no love between President Hugo Chavez and the Bush administration, there is little love lost between Chavez and the foreign oilmen who are pumping up the huge reservoirs of underground oil. But they need each other. The United States needs Venezuela to help quench its bottomless thirst for oil, and Chavez needs America to buy it from him in order to fund his dreams of spreading his leftist ideology around the hemisphere.

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