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ConocoPhillips Holds Talks in Venezuela

ConocoPhillips held last-minute negotiations with President Hugo Chavez's government before Tuesday's deadline to decide whether to accept tougher terms or give up on Venezuelan oil.

Most of the five other major energy companies involved appeared likely to accept the government's terms and sign deals Tuesday formally reducing their ownership positions to minority stakes in state-run joint ventures to keep pumping heavy crude in the lucrative Orinoco River basin.

Venezuela is taking at least 60 percent of each Orinoco venture, and gave the companies until Tuesday to negotiate the terms of their remaining stakes. Chavez's government already took over operational control of Venezuela's last privately run oil fields on May 1 as part of its nationalization drive.

ConocoPhillips (nyse: COP - news - people ) spokesman Bill Tanner in Houston said Monday afternoon that negotiations were continuing. "As you can imagine, it's pretty fluid," Tanner said.

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