October 27, 2014 / 5:55 PM / 5 years ago

World Bank panel suspends enforcement of Venezuela-Exxon ruling

CARACAS, Oct 27 (Reuters) - The World Bank’s international arbitration panel has temporarily suspended enforcement of an order that Venezuela pay Exxon Mobil Corp $1.6 billion in compensation for oil projects nationalized in 2007.

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) said it had received a request from the Venezuelan government for a revision of the award, which was announced Oct. 9.

“The Secretary-General registers an application for revision of the award filed by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and notifies the parties of the provisional stay of enforcement of the award,” according to an ICSID statement dated Oct. 24.

The case comes at a delicate time for Venezuela’s finances, with the economy apparently entering recession - though official data has been suppressed - and multi-billion bond payments due.

The South American country faces more than 20 arbitration cases over nationalizations carried out during the rule of late President Hugo Chavez, including a claim filed by ConocoPhillips over oil projects the state took over in 2007.

ICSID procedures allow parties to request clarification of a given ruling, which could lead the abitration panel to meet again.

Exxon had asked a U.S. District Court to enforce the claim.

Venezuela, which has said it will pay the award, has described the decision as a victory because it represented only a fraction of the $10 billion Exxon had been seeking.

Exxon officials were not immediately available for comment.

Neither Venezuela’s oil ministry, nor state oil company PDVSA, responded to phone calls and emails by Reuters seeking comment.

Chavez nationalized a range of oil projects, including the Cerro Negro heavy crude project and a smaller project called La Ceiba, both operated by Exxon. (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Anna Driver, writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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