When Venezuela's national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (Pdvsa), began operating in 1976, it had rapidly, dwindling crude oil reserves, a small international client base made up of intermediaries, no secure markets outside the country, and a refining plant geared mostly toward exporting fuel oil. Now, more than 17 years later, the company - widely known by its initials as Pdvsa - ranks as one of the world's largest integrated oil companies, with 1992 gross revenues of $21.4

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