Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is putting pressure on the petroleum industry to receive a greater share of revenue earned from the country”s oil and gas resources, acconding to a report by Industrial Information Resources (www.industrialinfo.com).

Since June 2005, the Venezuelan government has enacted a law that was originally proposed in 2001, which increased the tax rate up to 50 percent (from the previous 36 percent) to foreign oil companies working within Venezuela”s borders. According to estimates under the provision of this law, foreign operating companies owe Venezuela’s government a total of $2 billion from which Venezuela has already received $54 million since the law first went into effect.

Venezuela has begun to put this pressure on major oil companies at a time when rising oil prices, political instability in the Middle East, and new buyers in Nigeria and Asia have put the world”s fifth-largest oil exporter in a strong negotiating position. At the same time, Venezuela”s state-owned oil company, known as PDVSA, controls almost every barrel of oil produced in the country, thus placing the company in a very important and influential position, notes Industrial Info Resources.