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Conoco’s $8bn Asset Loss Award Upheld

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A US court upheld a tribunal’s $8.75 billion award to US oil producer ConocoPhillips over the expropriation of its Venezuelan oil assets, granting a default judgment in the case on Friday, August 19.

The decision gives the US 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 Ministry of Mines, state-oil firm PDVSA, and the Ministry of Information did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The country seized Conoco assets during late president Hugo Chavez’s nationalization of the oil, electricity, and steel industries.

Venezuela was bound by the terms of the ICSID Convention and US district court judge Carl Nichols said in his decision that Conoco had properly notified the country of its lawsuit through the US Department of State.

ConocoPhillips says it plans “to pursue all available legal avenues to obtain a full and fair recovery” but has not commented on planned actions.

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

Venezuela’s main foreign asset is US-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 US Treasury Department.

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