Venezuelan president threatens to cut off oil sales to U.S., calls Exxon 'outlaws'

Monday, February 11, 2008

CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez on Sunday threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States if Exxon Mobil Corp. wins court judgments to seize billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets.

"If you end up freezing [Venezuelan assets], and it harms us, we're going to harm you," Chavez said. "Do you know how? We aren't going to send oil to the United States. Take note, Mr. Bush, Mr. Danger."

Exxon Mobil has gone after the assets of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA in U.S., British and Dutch courts as it challenges the nationalization of a multibillion dollar oil project by Chavez's government.

A British court has issued an injunction freezing as much as $12 billion in assets.

"I speak to the U.S. empire, because that's the master: continue and you will see that we won't send one drop of oil to the empire of the United States," Chavez said during his weekly radio and television program, "Hello, President."

"The outlaws of Exxon Mobil will never again rob us," Chavez said, accusing the Irving, Texas-based oil company of acting in concert with Washington.

Chavez has repeatedly threatened to cut off oil shipments to the United States, which is Venezuela's No. 1 client, if Washington tries to oust him. Chavez's warnings on Sunday appeared to extend that threat to attempts by oil companies to challenge his government's nationalization drive in courts internationally.

"If the economic war continues against Venezuela, the price of oil is going to reach $200 (a barrel) and Venezuela will join the economic war," Chavez said. "And more than one country is willing to accompany us in the economic war."

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