* Minister says deal relates to 2009 nationalization
* U.S. companies had filed for World Bank arbitration
By Marianna Parraga
GUIRIA, Venezuela, March 23 Venezuela will
pay Williams Cos Inc and Exterran $420 million
for the 2009 nationalization of assets including a major gas
injection project, the South American country's oil minister
said on Friday.
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters the deal meant
the two companies would drop an arbitration case that is pending
against Venezuela before a World Bank tribunal.
"We reached an agreement of $420 million. They will drop the
arbitration. They had been asking for $1.2 billion," he said.
The nationalizations in 2009 were part of a broader wave of
state takeovers that targeted the assets of more than 70 smaller
oilfield service companies, the majority of them Venezuelan.
U.S. service company Exterran Holdings announced a $97
million non-cash charge in April 2009 relating to Venezuela's
takeover of a gas injection plant controlled by U.S. firm
Williams Companies and a water injection plant, which both
included Exterran as a minority partner.
During President Hugo Chavez's 13 years in power, his
socialist government has put almost all the OPEC member's oil
industry under state control, including multi-billion dollar
projects run by U.S. majors.
Venezuela has about 20 cases pending against it at the World
Bank's arbitration tribunal, known as the International Center
for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID.
The most high profile of those were brought by Exxon Mobil
and ConocoPhilips, which are seeking combined
compensation of some $40 billion for takeovers in 2007.