at the Venezuelan state oil monopoly will be fired and prosecuted,
President Hugo Chavez said Dec. 21 as he vowed to break the work
stoppage aimed at forcing him from office, according to press reports.
said his oil-rich country may import fuel from neighboring countries
to ease shortages.
prices are likely to remain high after the producers' cartel, OPEC,
said it would not release more output into the market until mid-January
to compensate for the strikes that have halted production in Venezuela.
The Saudi oil
minister, Ali al-Naimi, blamed market "speculation" rather
than supply shortages for the current surge in prices that has taken
oil above $30 a barrel. But he said OPEC would release more supply
on to world markets if the price stayed above the cartel's $22 to
$28 target range beyond the middle of next month.
has fired four dissident oil executives and seized a fuel-laden
ship whose crew joined the strike by dropping anchor in western
Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo. Soldiers then moved the tanker Pilin
Leon to shore after Friday's seizure. Twelve other tankers remained
idle in various ports.
have been cut by about 90 percent since the strike began Dec. 2,
helping drive up world prices. Chavez foes insist the president
must step down before his term ends in 2007, accusing him of failing
to revive the economy, widening class divisions and ruling autocratically.