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U.S. court upholds Conoco’s $8.7 bln award for loss of Venezuela assets

A U.S. court upheld a tribunal’s $8.75 billion award to U.S. oil producer ConocoPhillips (COP.N) over the expropriation of its Venezuelan oil assets, granting a default judgment in the case on Friday.

The decision gives the U.S. company new authority to collect on a 2019 award by a World Bank tribunal. The award includes interest that adds at least $1 billion to the amount owed to Conoco.

The World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes awarded Conoco $8.75 billion over the 2007 expropriation of three of its oil projects in the country. Conoco had sought up to $30 billion for the takeover.
Venezuela’s government rejected the court’s decision in a statement issued by the president’s office on Monday evening, saying the country would continue to take legal action to “preserve its patrimony.”
“This unfair decision has been forged by violating… Venezuela’s right to defense,” the statement said.

It added that the decision was in “complicity with Venezuelan extremists, including (opposition leader) Juan Guaido.”

Guaido didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Venezuela seized Conoco assets during late President Hugo Chavez’s nationalizations of oil, electricity and steel industries.

The country was bound by the terms of the ICSID Convention and Conoco had properly notified the country of its lawsuit through the U.S. Department of State, U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols said in his decision.

ConocoPhillips said it plans “to pursue all available legal avenues to obtain a full and fair recovery,” but did not comment on planned actions.

Conoco previously has used legal seizures of Venezuelan oil assets to enforce its claims. Its share price rose less than 1% to $105.24 on a day in which the broader market fell sharply.

Venezuela’s main foreign asset is U.S.-based Citgo Petroleum, an oil refiner that split from its parent in 2019 and has been operating under legal protections from creditors issued by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston; Additional reporting by Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas in Caracas; Editing by Mark Porter, Cynthia Osterman & Shri Navaratnam)

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