September 14, 2007

US oil firm seeks deal with Venezuela


US – Exxon Mobil is seeking arbitration over a stand-off with Venezuela about the takeover of its oil assets.

The US oil firm made its case to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a group with close links to the World Bank.{{more}}

It has not said how much compensation it wants for the 41.7% stake in the Orinoco Belt oil field – worth an estimated $750m (£370m).

Venezuela took over the oil project as part of a nationalisation drive.

“Exxon Mobil has worked with the Venezuelan government to reach an agreement regarding compensation based on the fair market value of the assets,” company spokesman Len D’Eramo said.

“We are disappointed these discussions have not been successful.”

As a result, the firm has applied to the independent, Washington-based centre to settle the rows.

President Hugo Chavez’s government took control of exploration projects in the Orinoco Belt, which had been among the last privately-run fields in the country.

It is the country’s most important oil area, with massive potential.

There are proven reserves of at least 80 billion barrels, but there could be enough there to make Venezuela the world’s biggest source of oil.

Four major companies – US-based Chevron, the UK’s BP, French group Total and Norway’s Statoil – accepted the government’s move. (BBC)