against President Hugo Chavez's rule has brought Venezuela's critical
oil industry to a standstill as opposition demonstrators tried to
paralyze the capital Dec. 18 by blocking roads for the second time
this week, The Associated Press reported.
are concerned that continuing trouble, along with the growing threat
of war with Iraq, would push the price of crude to $40 per barrel,
resulting in much higher prices for gas and diesel fuel.
- which entered its 17th day Wednesday - has reduced Venezuela's
oil output from nearly 3 million to 400,000 barrels per day, sending
the world price of crude oil above $30 a barrel and depriving the
country of $50 million daily in export income. Venezuelan oil normally
accounts for 10 percent of U.S. oil imports.
Chavez has sent soldiers to striking oil facilities to little effect.
Venezuela's 13-tanker shipping fleet lay at anchor, its crews having
joined the strike. The strike also has caused fuel shortages in
sentiment among workers is: Strike until he leaves,'' said Gonzalo
Feijoo, an adviser for Venezuela's state-owned oil monopoly, Petroleos
de Venezuela, S.A., where top management is in open rebellion.