Venezuela: Chavez's government seizes oil contractors

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday that his government is nationalizing 60 oil contractors as he moves to assert greater control over Venezuela's oil industry. He said companies to be nationalized under a new law will include SIMCO consortium, which has worked injecting water into oil fields in western Lake Maracaibo for the past 10 years. State-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, is taking over all oil service work in the lake, where private companies have long helped extract crude, he said. "SIMCO consortium disappears today," Chavez said in a televised speech from a harbor in Lake Maracaibo, where he oversaw the seizure of 300 boats, docks and other assets belonging to oil contractors. "Now, it belongs to PDVSA." Wood Group, which is a 49.5 percent partner in the consortium, said in an e-mailed statement from its Houston offices on Thursday that PDVSA took over its operations earlier this year "following the consortium submitting a notice of default due to nonpayment and other contractual disputes."