Exxon owed $1.6bn by Venezuela for 2007 nationalisation

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Venezuelan protestors outside an Exxon Mobil petrol station in 2008Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The dispute between Venezuela and Exxon Mobile dates back to 2007

Venezuela must pay oil giant Exxon Mobil $1.6bn (£1bn) in compensation for expropriated assets, an international arbitration tribunal has decided.

Exxon had claimed up to $16.6bn over the nationalisation 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.

'Exaggerated claims'

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 $908m.

Venezuela has since paid a portion of that award, which will be taken into account in calculating the balance that Venezuela owes.