January 27, 2009 / 11:20 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Venezuela takes over Ensco rig in payment spat

(Adds details, Ensco comment)

CARACAS, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA on Tuesday said it seized an oil rig operated by ENSCO ESV.N after the U.S. company stopped the drill in a disagreement over payments for services.

PDVSA, which has built up debts with providers and skipped payments to some partners under the strain of falling oil prices, said ENSCO had broken its contract by stopping drilling work at an oil project Venezuela operates with Italy’s ENI (ENI.MI).

PDVSA said the dispute stemmed from a disagreement over back payments owed ENSCO. PDVSA said the Dallas-based company had earned $110 million from its work at the project. It did not say how much money ENSCO was owed or whether negotiations continue.

Prior to the seizure, an ENSCO spokesman confirmed it had problems with PDVSA.

“We, like others, are working through payment issues with PDVSA, the spokesman said. “I won’t comment on the state of operations ... The crew is still on board.”

Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Bill Trott

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