HOUSTON/CARACAS, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Venezuela is in the process of seizing oil equipment owned by Houston-based Superior Energy Services, a company spokesman said on Monday, after state-run PDVSA failed to pay debts owed to the U.S. company.
In recent years, Venezuela has seized assets of contractors after they halted work to demand PDVSA pay past due bills.
PDVSA began accumulating billions of dollars in unpaid bills with service companies after the financial crisis.
Superior said two hydraulic workover rigs used for doing maintenance on wells had been leased to PDVSA.
"PDVSA notified us that the seizure has already begun and that it will take the equipment," said Greg Rosenstein, Superior's executive vice president of Corporate Development. "We were not expecting a seizure."
He declined to specify how much the company was owed.
Superior has been working in Venezuela for the last 15 years, mostly as a service provider for PDVSA.
At the end of 2009, it had reported a "reduction of the net realizable value of accounts receivable" from operations in Venezuela.
That year the OPEC nation seized a rig owned by U.S. contract driller Ensco International Inc in a payment dispute and U.S. driller Helmerich & Payne idled rigs in Venezuela on complaints it was not being paid.
In 2009, late socialist leader Hugo Chavez led the takeover of oil services companies including local companies with operations in the oil-rich Lake Maracaibo area.