ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips to exit Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has forced six global oil giants to transfer equity stakes of 60 per cent or more in four key heavy-oil ventures to state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela.

The four companies Chevron, BP, France's Total, and Norway's Statoil signed agreements with Energy & Oil Minister Rafael Ramírez. However, two big players, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips have decided to exit the South American country — a move likely to hit Venezuela's oil output.

ExxonMobil's and ConocoPhillip's exit comes at time when Venezuela is hoping to attract more than $21 billion in investment from foreign oil companies.

The goal: to boost daily oil output to 5.2 million barrels per day by 2012, up from its current 2.4 million. Venezuela, currently OPEC's fourth-largest producer, plans to spend $77 billion overall in the next five years.

But with the shake-up in the industry, many analysts doubt Chávez will achieve his goals.