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Venezuela says it will pay ExxonMobil $255 million over nationalization

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 3:37 PM EST, Mon January 2, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The dispute centers around the 2007 nationalization of the Cerro Negro Project
  • ExxonMobil argued that Venezuela's state oil company breached contractual obligations
  • Venezuela argued that taking over the project was its sovereign right
  • President Hugo Chavez has nationalized numerous industries and land holdings

Caracas, Venezuela (CNN) -- Venezuela said Monday that it would pay ExxonMobil $255 million after an international arbitration ruling over the South American country's 2007 nationalization of a joint project.

The International Chamber of Commerce has ruled that Venezuela owes ExxonMobil $907 million, according to a Venezuelan government statement Monday. But officials from the state-run PdSVA oil company said it would be required to pay only $255 million because of past debts.

ExxonMobil affiliates filed the arbitration case against Venezuela in 2008 over the Cerro Negro Project, which was a joint venture until the Venezuelan government took over ExxonMobil's 42% interest in June 2007.

ExxonMobil argued that PdVSA had breached contractual obligations. Venezuela argued that taking over the project and others in the crude-rich Orinoco belt was its sovereign right.

PdSVA said the arbitration ruling showed that ExxonMobil's demands for billions of dollars in compensation were "completely exaggerated and without logic."

"If ExxonMobil had been willing to accept a reasonable compensation, which the arbitration tribunal has confirmed, arbitration would not have been necessary," PdSVA said in a statement.

An ExxonMobil spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Another arbitration case between ExxonMobil and Venezuela is pending in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has nationalized numerous industries and land holdings during his 13-year tenure.

Journalist Osmary Hernandez contributed to this report.

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