Page last updated at 22:41 GMT, Thursday, 4 June 2009 23:41 UK

Chavez to seize chemical projects

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
President Chavez has a policy of reducing the private sector

Venezuela is preparing to nationalise petrochemical projects as part of President Hugo Chavez's campaign to limit the private sector.

The national assembly is reading a law that would force the country's chemical companies to become minority partners in joint ventures with the state.

It would extend the list of companies in Venezuela's huge oil sector that are under government control.

The law is likely to be passed when it goes for its second reading next week.

It is the latest in a series of nationalisations by President Chavez - on Wednesday he announced that he was taking control of 70 gas compression units.

He has also taken control of oil services companies and iron works this year as well as buying the country's third largest lender, Banco de Venezuela, for $1.05bn (£651m) from Spain's Banco Santander.

In February he won a referendum that allowed him to keep running for new terms in office.

Venezuela already has a large petrochemical company called Pequiven.

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