June 14, 2010 / 1:17 AM / 7 years ago

Chavez suggests naming PDVSA "Socialist Petroleum"

CARACAS (Reuters) - President Hugo Chavez on Sunday proposed changing the name of one of the world’s largest oil companies and a major supplier of crude to the United States, Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA, to Socialist Venezuelan Petroleum.

<p>Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks during his weekly broadcast "Alo Presidente" at the Industrial Complex Jose Antonio Anzoategui in the southern state of Anzoategui June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout</p>

During 11 years in office, Chavez has added a star to Venezuela’s flag, created a new time zone half an hour out of sync with its neighbours and even renamed the country -- it is now called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The president has put large swathes of the economy under government control, from multibillion dollar oil projects to supermarket chains and coffee roasters.

The charismatic leader, often accused by critics of creating a personality cult around himself, refrains from putting his own name on streets or public works. But most companies swept into his nationalization drive now bear names linked to his leftist politics or to South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

“This country has started to be governed by the people, by the working class, and this is a tool of the working class,” Chavez said on his weekly TV show.

“The new homeland, the new PDVSA, Socialist Venezuelan Petroleum,” he said, broadcasting from a heavy crude upgrader controlled by ConocoPhillips until a 2007 nationalization.

PDVSA is ranked as the world’s fourth largest oil company in an annual survey by industry publication Petroleum Intelligence Weekly. It is South America’s top oil exporter and a key supplier of crude to the United States.

Chavez said he ordered a study to see if the name could be changed.

Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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