Venezuela to withdraw from court

Jan. 17, 2012 at 6:27 AM
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CARACAS, Venezuela, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Venezuela will defend its interests in cases related to major oil companies but is withdrawing from an international court nonetheless, a minister said.

Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez signed a measure that prepares the country for leaving the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

"There is a government position," he was quoted by Venezuelan news agency El Universal as saying. "According to current mechanisms we will notify our departure from the ICSID."

In early January, the International Chamber of Commerce ordered Venezuela's state-controlled oil producer Petroleos de Venezuela to pay Exxon Mobil about $747 million for the 2007 seizure of oil wells in the country. That's about 10 percent of what the company requested, however, and Exxon said it would take the matter up with the World Bank next month.

Venezuelan officials have said they wouldn't take any action made by the ICSID seriously.

The Venezuelan government in 2007 ordered international oil companies to transform production agreements into ones that made them minority shareholders with PDVSA in the country's oil-rich Orinoco Belt.

Ramirez serves as president of PDVSA.

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