The World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes has agreed to hear a complaint filed by Spanish oil major Repsol against Argentina's move to expropriate a controlling stake in oil firm YPF, Repsol said.
The Spanish company filed the suit on Dec. 3, six months after notifying Argentina that it planned to take the dispute to international arbitration unless it received fair compensation for the 51 percent stake seized in its former Argentine unit.
The complaint will be heard by a three-arbitrator panel: one named by Repsol, one by Argentina and a third by mutual agreement of the two parties. If there is no consensus, the third arbitrator will be named by the ICSID.
The court's arbitral proceedings include a pre-hearing written phase and a hearing on the merits and typically last between three and six years.
Repsol spokespersons said the company will demand it be paid fair compensation for the expropriation, though they added that the decision to take the dispute to the ICSID does not exclude the possibility of a negotiated settlement with Argentina.
The Spanish oil major is seeking to have the nationalization declared illegal and for Argentina to be forced to reverse the decision or compensate the company for it.
Repsol, which formerly had a 57.4 percent stake in Argentina's largest oil and gas producer but now holds a roughly 12 percent interest, is seeking $10.5 billion in compensation from the Argentine government.
The Spanish company also has taken legal action against the nationalization in courts in Argentina, Spain and the United States.