[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Venezuela 'may swap oil currency'
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
President Chavez has big plans for Venezuela's oil industry
Venezuela has hinted it could price its oil exports in euros rather than US dollars, further weakening its links to the US.

President Hugo Chavez said he was considering taking the step following a similar declaration by Iran.

Earlier this month, Iranian authorities gave backing for the launch of an oil exchange that traded solely in euros.

Some reports have suggested Iran's move may be part of a bid to undermine the importance of the dollar.

But in an interview with Channel 4 News in London, Mr Chavez said the move was merely a matter of choice.

"I think the European Union has made a large contribution with the euro," he said.

"So what the president of Iran says ... is recognising the power of Europe - they have succeeded in integrating and have a single currency competing with the dollar, and Venezuela might also consider that - we are free to do that," he added.

Dollar concerns

Experts have suggested that, should Iran demand payment for its exports in euros, central banks could opt to convert some of their dollar reserves to euros and therefore possibly trigger a further decline in the US currency.

The dollar has already come under pressure in foreign exchange markets in recent weeks, triggering nervousness in world stock markets.

Central banks, especially in Asia, who hold large amounts of the US dollar, could find the value of their foreign currency reserves substantially reduced.

Tensions rising

Iran is currently embroiled in a stand-off with the US in a row over its nuclear ambitions.

Iran, the second-largest exporter in oil producing nations group Opec, insists merely wants to build power stations, but the US claims it is building nuclear arms.

Meanwhile, Venezuela - the world's fifth largest oil producer - has been trying to reduce its dependence on the US, as relations have been strained under President Hugo Chavez.

In April it signed a joint venture with Cuba - a long time opponent of the US - to revamp an oil refinery and supply unrefined oil to the country.

Oil up as Iran letter hopes fade
09 May 06 |  Business
Venezuelan oil firm cuts SEC ties
13 Apr 06 |  Business
Venezuela takes back oil fields
03 Apr 06 |  Business
Venezuela and Cuba agree oil link
11 Apr 06 |  Business
Venezuela hits BP with tax bill
27 Mar 06 |  Business

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific