The law gives distributors 60 days to negotiate the sale of their businesses to the government or face expropriation. It also forces distributors to sell storage tanks and gasoline pumps to Petróleos de Venezuela and to relinquish their brand names.
Congressman Luis Tascón, a former Chávez ally, said the pending legislation could cause shortages at gas stations because the government is not prepared to take full control over distribution.
The Chávez government has never raised gasoline prices and Chávez has ruled out any increase in the fixed pump price of around 12 U.S. cents per gallon, the cheapest in the world. Wholesale fuel distribution in Venezuela generally offers limited profitability because of the combination of fixed prices and high inflation.
"I'm warning the population that if this law is approved, we are going to see shortages in the short term," said Tascón, one of a handful of lawmakers who voted against the bill.