/ 14 July 2008

Chávez says oil could reach $300

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said on Sunday oil prices could hit $300 per barrel if United States oil company Exxon Mobil again freezes Venezuelan assets in a dispute over a nationalised oil project.

Exxon won court orders freezing $12-billion in assets held by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA after the Opec nation took over a multibillion-dollar oil project, heightening tensions with the United States and helping to raise oil prices.

A London court later overturned Exxon’s temporary asset freeze, but Chávez said the company could seek further action against Venezuela.

”If they freeze us there will be no more oil for the United States, and the price will go to $300,” Chávez said during a televised meeting with Caribbean and Central American leaders as part of an energy cooperation scheme called Petrocaribe.

Chávez also said oil prices were being influenced by a ”speculative bubble”, the collapse of which could send prices as low as $70 per barrel.

This contrasted with his Saturday statements that geopolitical tensions, particularly the threat of an invasion against Iran, could push oil prices to $200 per barrel.

”Years ago I said oil was going to go to $100 per barrel, now it looks like it is headed toward $200,” he said. – Reuters