Venezuela recently and quietly took control of two Texas-owned oil rigs that that had been closed, sitting idle, due to a failure to make payments.
The seizure was made with a judge’s permission, The Washington Post reported.
Four members of Anzoategui State police and the Venezuela national guard stormed the Houston-based Superior Energy Services rigs recently and demanded that control be transferred to the nation-owned oil producer, PDVSA, The Post said. PDVSA said the equipment was needed for the welfare of South American citizens, and company workers tore down parts of the facilities and loaded up their trucks.
“It was like a thief breaking into your house, asking for the keys to the safe and then expecting you to help carry it away,” said a local operations manager for Superior, to The Post. “Their argument was that we were practically sabotaging national production.”
The nation’s newest president, Nicolas Maduro, has been fighting to overturn perceptions set by the late president, Hugo Chavez, that the country is unfriendly to foreign investors. Mr. Chavez made frequent appearances on state-run television, announcing his troops had stormed the likes of grocery stores and oil companies, enacting takeovers. Mr. Maduro has so far avoided such action in his six months as leader.