VENEZUELA: Come & Get It

Almost every day this month, the Venezuelan government's ordinarily dry Gaceta Oficial has been publishing a flood of mouth-watering news. For the first time in eleven years, and for fabulous sums, the government is selling off new oil concessions, some from the rich, crude-soaked national reserves.

Under the 50-50 provisions of Venezuela's pattern-setting oil law of 1943 and subsequent legislation, foreign oilmen, once they are in production, must pay at least half of their profits to the Venezuelan treasury. But to get concessions in the first place, they must make bids, offering what the law calls "special advantages"...

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