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AP Worldstream: Shell, Petrobras pay off back taxes to Venezuela

Oil companies Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Brazil's Petrobras have paid a total of US$37 million (A30 million) in back-tax claims to the Venezuelan government, the tax agency said in statement late Tuesday.
Shell owed US$13 million (A10.6 million) in taxes, while Petrobras, a state-owned company known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA, owed US$23.7 million (A19.3 million).
The bills came last year after the tax agency conducted an audit of private companies operating oil fields under contract to reclaim what it says were billions of dollars (euros) in unpaid taxes. Twenty other oil firms have been billed for back taxes.
President Hugo Chavez's administration has taken advantage of high oil prices to pressure the petroleum industry for a greater share of revenues. It has used extra oil income to fund social programs, as well as strengthen alliances with other countries.
Separately Tuesday, an official from El Salvador's main left-wing party, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN, said a delegation was lobbying for 21,000 gallons (79,500 liters) a month of diesel and gasoline under Venezuela's Petrocaribe initiative, which provides oil through cheap financing and partial payments with agricultural exports.
The fuel would be sold to municipalities governed by the FMLN and other parties that sign up for the program, said Orestes Fredesman Ortez, a national coordinator for the FMLN.
El Salvador's conservative government of Tony Saca has previously rejected a Petrocaribe deal, saying it would violate free trade agreements with the U.S.
Venezuela is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter and holds the largest conventional oil reserves outside of the Mideast.

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