Chavez's Big Oil Bluff

Peeved by Exxon's legal victory, Venezuela's President is threatening to end oil exports to the U.S.a move that would probably backfire
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Pedro Rey/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is famed for his incendiary oratory. But in his recent threats to cut off oil shipments to the U.S., a move he says could propel world prices to $200 a barrel, he's probably blowing smoke, not fire. The U.S., after all, is the No. 1 market for Venezuela's oil exports. More important, the U.S. is home to refineries specially equipped to handle Venezuela's brand of heavy, high-sulfur crude. Finding other customers for the country's oil in a hurry would hardly be a cinch.

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