March 16, 2010 / 4:55 PM / 10 years ago

Shell says most oil companies shunning Venezuela

LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) - International oil majors have mostly lost interest in investing in Venezuela, Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) said on Tuesday, following leftist President Hugo Chavez’s nationalisation of assets in recent years.

“They are desperately inviting people back in, but no one’s going there,” Shell’s Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry told reporters at the sidelines of a press conference in London.

Europe’s largest oil company by market value did not bid in a licensing round last month to develop projects in Venezuela’s Orinoco belt, despite being openly courted by Chavez.

London-based BP (BP.L) has also decided against investing in Venezuela due to the uncertain political environment, analysts said.

The world’s largest non-government controlled oil and gas company by market value Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) and the U.S.’s third largest oil major, ConocoPhillips (COP.N), left Venezuela in 2007 after being pushed out of multibillion-dollar heavy oil projects in the Orinoco belt.

Despite some companies boycotting Venezuela, the South American country said last month it had secured the biggest investments ever in its oil industry, though some analysts questioned their method of counting this.

U.S. number 2 Chevron (CVX.N) and Spain’s Repsol (REP.MC) were the only Western oil companies who won contracts in the latest Orinoco auction. Only two of the three contracts on offer were taken up. (Reporting by Tom Bergin, editing by Will Waterman)

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