Monday, February 11, 2008

Venezuela warns US of economic war over oil

President Hugo Chavez warned he would halt oil supplies to the United States if it continued to attack Venezuela as he said it had done with an Exxon Mobil lawsuit freezing assets of the OPEC nation. The anti-imperialist president also said such US aggression could cause world oil prices to spike to $200 a barrel.

Washington has distanced itself from the Exxon legal offensive in which the largest US company won international court orders freezing up to $US12 billion ($A13.5 billion) of the state oil company PDVSA's assets. "If you freeze us, if you really manage to freeze us, if you damage us, then we will hurt you. Do you know how? We are not going to send oil to the United States," Chavez said on his weekly TV show.

"Take note, Mr Bush, Mr Danger."

Chavez has frequently issued conditional threats to stop shipments to its biggest oil customer, but has maintained supplies despite clashing with the Bush administration over everything from crude prices to free trade to democracy.

Exxon Mobil has gone after the assets of PDVSA in US, British and Dutch courts as it challenges the nationalisation of a multibillion dollar oil project by Chavez's government last year. A British court has issued an injunction "freezing" as much as $US12 billion ($A13.45 billion) in assets.

"The outlaws of Exxon Mobil will never again rob us," Chavez said, accusing the Irving, Texas-based oil major of acting in concert with "the imperialist government of the United States" and of being part of corporate "worldwide mafias."