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OIL AND GAS
Pope urges UN to help Venezuela
By Kelly VELASQUEZ
On Board The Papal Plane (AFP) Sept 11, 2017


11 die in shootout with soldiers in Venezuela's southeast
Caracas (AFP) Sept 11, 2017 - Eleven people died in an exchange of gunfire with soldiers in Venezuela's southeast, where criminal gangs dispute control of gold mines, the national prosecutor's office said on Monday.

The gunfight occurred on Sunday in the town of Tumeremo when a patrol following up reports of an "armed organization" in the area were "surprised by a group of unidentified individuals," the office said in a statement.

"That caused an exchange of gunfire. As a result of the clash, 11 men died and an army officer was wounded," it said, adding an investigation had been opened into the incident.

The violence followed a similar confrontation on August 14 between a suspected gang and a mixed patrol of soldiers and police, in the nearby town of El Callao. Eight people died in that incident.

The region has a reputation for lawlessness and violence, fuelled by the mining and trading in gold.

Last year in Tumeremo a mass grave was found with the bodies of 17 miners who had been shot in the head and chest.

Months later another massacre, of 11 people, was recorded in the same town.

According to prosecutors, there were 21,752 murders in Venezuela last year. Its homicide rate makes it one of the deadliest countries in the world.

Pope Francis appealed to the United Nations on Monday to help Venezuela end a deadly economic, political and social crisis.

"The most painful is the humanitarian problem. There are so many people fleeing or suffering," the pontiff told journalists aboard the papal plane on his return trip from a five-day visit to Colombia.

"It's a humanitarian problem that needs to be addressed, and I believe the UN must make itself heard, to help," he said.

On Sunday, Francis issued a special prayer for a peaceful end to Venezuela's "grave crisis", which has caused food and medicine shortages, and clashes at anti-government protests that left 125 people dead from April to July.

The South American country's legislative speaker had called on the pope to plead with President Nicolas Maduro to allow food aid to reach the destitute.

He noted that donations sent to Venezuela in recent months by organisations such as Caritas Chile have not been accepted by the Maduro government.

The Vatican was one of the facilitators of a month-long dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition, which collapsed in mutual recrimination.

"I don't know what Maduro is thinking, I don't know what's going on in his head," Francis admitted to reporters on his plane.

OIL AND GAS
Cuban oil drilling program low on funds
Washington (UPI) Sep 11, 2017
An effort to raise up to $4.8 million to help fund drilling operations at a reservoir in Cuba fell well short of its goal, Melbana Energy Ltd. said. Melbana is one of the few Western companies, and the only one listed on Australia's stock exchange, with an established footprint in Cuba. It initiated a push last month to raise capital for its preliminary efforts and said that through the ... read more

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