Money News

Courts freeze $36bln Venezuela assets in Exxon row

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp has moved to freeze up to $36 billion in Venezuelan assets around the world as the U.S. company fights for payment in return for the state’s takeover of a huge oil project last year.

The company said it has received a British court order that prohibits Venezuela state oil firm PDVSA from selling any of its worldwide assets up to a value of $12 billion.

It also said on Thursday it received court orders freezing up to $12 billion of PDVSA assets in the Netherlands and another $12 billion in the Netherlands Antilles.

Lastly, Exxon won a court order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in December freezing more than $300 million belonging to PDVSA, as Exxon argued it would have little chance to recoup its investment from PDVSA should it win its arbitration.

PDVSA was not immediately available for comment.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took over Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips stakes in multibillion-dollar heavy oil projects in Venezuela’s oil region last June. The move was part of a nationalization drive that also included utilities and telecommunications companies owned by foreign companies.