HOUSTON ConocoPhillips (COP.N) said on Wednesday an arbitration panel of the World Bank ruled that Venezuela unlawfully expropriated the firm's oil investments in the South American country in 2007, causing a charge of about $4.5 billion.
The company's Petrozuata and Hamaca heavy crude oil projects and its offshore Corocoro development were taken over during the left-wing administration of deceased former President Hugo Chavez.
The company said the arbitration process of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes will continue for some time to figure out compensation owed.
Simmons & Co, a Houston-based energy investment bank, said it was too early to know if ConocoPhillips would be able to collect any payments.
A determination of a final award could take one or two more years, followed by an annulment procedure that could last up two years, Simmons said.
(Reporting by Terry Wade in Houston and Eyanir Chinea in Caracas)