Thousands of people took
to the streets in Venezuela Dec. 29 demanding the resignation of President
Hugo Chavez. The event marked the 28th day of a nationwide strike that has
virtually halted oil exports and evaporated domestic fuel supplies in the
South American nation, The Associated Press reports.
The strike has slashed
oil exports, forcing the world's fifth-largest oil supplier to barter with
other countries for food and fuel.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Billy
Tauzin (R-LA), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asked
the Bush administration to release oil from the stockpile in order to keep
refineries well stocked. A spokesman for Tauzin said there's been no official
notice about the status of the request.
Speaking to Reuters,
spokesman Ken Johnson added, "We continue to be concerned that events
in Venezuela will have a chilling effect on consumers in the United States."
Meanwhile, crude oil prices
Dec. 30 hit a two-year high of $33.65 per barrel as traders bet on a U.S.
attack against Iraq early next year. The prices later fell on indications
from OPEC that it will fill supply gaps caused by events in Venezuela and
Iraq, Reuters reported.