Nicaragua to nationalize oil imports

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has called on his cabinet to devise a plan for nationalizing oil imports. The move follows a series of clashes between the government and Exxon Mobil subsidiary Esso Standard Oil, which handles most of the crude oil imports and refining in the country.

The dispute is over a deal on the use of the tanks for storing oil. Ortega plans to increase crude oil imports from Venezuela by 8 million barrels a year. Since the state-run oil company Petronic does not have enough storage facilities, Ortega wanted Esso to provide storage tanks. Esso, however, rejected the request. Following this, the government alleged that Esso is unwilling to help solve the energy crisis in the country. In a speech on national television in early December, Ortega said Esso officials were acting like "true mercenaries, speculators, bleeding the people'. The government had earlier accused the company of not paying us $3 million in taxes.