June 19, 2015 / 5:06 PM / 3 years ago

Venezuela sees 2016 ruling on bid to annul $1.6 billion award to Exxon

CARACAS (Reuters) - A World Bank arbitration tribunal should rule in the second quarter of 2016 on Venezuela’s bid to annul a $1.6 billion compensation award to Exxon Mobil Corp for nationalizations, the country’s attorney-general’s office said on Friday.

Earlier this week, the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) rejected a separate Venezuelan request that the center review the award.

Venezuela has been arguing that the ICSID should either annul the $1.6 billion award or at least deduct the country’s previous payment of $908 million to Exxon that was ordered by the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

“A large part of the compensation for Exxon Mobil’s Cerro Negro project decided by the ICSID tribunal had already been paid by (state oil company) Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), in accordance with the ICC ruling,” the attorney-general’s office said in a statement.

“That’s why Venezuela’s case with Exxon Mobil continues despite the ICSID decision to reject Venezuela’s request to revise last year’s ruling.”

President Nicolas Maduro’s government faces a raft of big-figure arbitration claims as it also handles an economic recession, a tumble in oil prices and substantial debt payments.

The cases date from former president Hugo Chavez’s 14-year rule when he nationalized a range of oil ventures, including the Exxon-operated Cerro Negro and La Ceiba projects.

Venezuela in the past has paid ICSID awards and says it will honor rulings in ongoing cases.

Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Girish Gupta; Editing by David Gregorio

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