Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips , two of the world’s top oil companies, have refused to sign a deal to stay in multi-billion dollar Venezuelan projects that are being nationalized, officials said.
A day before a deadline to accept terms for the government to take a majority stake in four heavy-crude upgrading projects, the companies’ decision greatly increases the chances they will leave the OPEC nation.
Four other companies — Chevron Corp., Norway’s Statoil , Britain’s BP Plc and France’s Total — are working toward signing an accord that will keep them involved in the projects, the officials said.
The officials — one from the oil industry and another from the government — asked not to be named because the government planned to officially make the announcement of the deals later.
President Hugo Chavez said on Friday some companies have rejected his government’s terms for deals in which Venezuela takes at least a 60 percent stake in projects valued above $30 billion that can produce 600,000 barrels per day.
The officials noted that negotiations with Exxon and ConocoPhillips could be revived at the 11th hour.
But both said the companies’ position had been clear: they refused to sign a memorandum of understanding that commits them to remaining in the projects even as their stake is reduced.
"Exxon and Conoco are out," one of the officials said.