The failure to pay debts would be one of the reasons for which the Venezuelan authorities decided to take over the drills of the US oil firm. Venezuelan Minister of Petroleum Rafael Ramírez said that 11 drilling rigs have been idled for months, as reported by Reuters. Venezuela, through the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (Pdvsa), will nationalize a fleet of 11 oil rigs that "will boost domestic production of hydrocarbons and strengthen the policy of full oil sovereignty." Rafael Ramírez, the Minister of Energy and Petroleum and president of the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa), reported the nationalization of the fleet of oil rigs through a press release on Wednesday.
According to the information quoted by the state-run Venezuelan News Agency (AVN), Ramírez said that the aforementioned drilling rigs have been used as a "spearhead by sectors opposing the government of President Hugo Chávez to try to sabotage the country's crude oil production." The rigs belong to Helmerich & Payne, a US company. "There is a group of drill owners that has refused to discuss the service rates with Pdvsa and has preferred to keep this equipment stored for a year in Anaco, state of Anzoátegui." "For this reason, a Declaration of Public Utility was requested from the National Assembly to take over it (the drills.) We will not let them sabotage our operations, as they did at the end of 2002," Ramírez admonished.