Williams, Other Services Companies in Venezuela's Sights (WMB, HAL, SLB, BJS, BHI)

The Venezuelan government passed a law permitting the nationalization of oil field services companies, compensating companies for expropriating assets by issuing bonds instead of paying with cash. The law could even lead to the annulment of existing contracts.  Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) appears to be the first target, and Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL), Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE:SLB), BJ Services Company (NYSE:BJS), and Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE:BHI) could all be on the list.

Williams will write down $241 million in unpaid fees from Venezuela’s state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA). Other companies that might be affected, according to Upstreamonline.com, are Halliburton, Schlumberger Ltd., BJ Services, and Baker Hughes.

The situation in Venezuela can only get worse as production falls and PDVSA’s debts mount. US companies doing work in Venezuela are probably living in a fool’s paradise if they expect either to be paid for their work or to be able to hold on to their investments.

At least oil company stocks are up with higher oil prices today.

Paul Ausick
May 8, 2009