An international arbitration tribunal has decided that Venezuela must pay Exxon Mobil $1.6 billion in compensation for expropriated assets.
Exxon had claimed up to $16.6 billion over the nationalization of its Cerro Negro Project and other losses in 2007.
Venezuela has not said whether it will appeal. But the foreign minister said the decision was “reasonable”.
The ruling was made by the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
It is a blow to Venezuela which is struggling with a shortage of foreign currency, inflation and a stagnating economy.
Foreign minister Rafael Ramirez called it a victory for Venezuelan sovereignty over “exaggerated claims”, referring to the much higher amount indicated by the Exxon Mobil.
The Venezuelan government is currently battling more than 20 similar demands at the World Bank by other foreign companies over the state’s takeover of private assets under its former president, Hugo Chavez.
Exxon Mobil said in a statement: “The decision confirms that the Venezuelan government failed to provide fair compensation for expropriated assets.”
The company added that it “accepts Venezuela’s legal right to expropriate the assets of our affiliates subject to compensation at fair market value”.
A previous decision in 2012 ruled that PDVSA, the state oil company, should pay Exxon $908 million.
Venezuela has since paid a portion of that award, which will be taken into account in calculating the balance that Venezuela owes.
[youtube UR0okb-hVgo 650]