State-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA said Monday that it is obliged to pay only $255 million of the $908 million judgment an international arbitration panel awarded Exxon Mobil Corp. for assets nationalized by the Venezuelan government.
The world's largest oil company had asked the International Chamber of Commerce panel to award it $7 billion for the assets nationalized in 2007 by the government of President Hugo Chavez.
PDVSA said the amount of the ICC judgment must be reduced by $191 million to reflect money Exxon still owes the Venezuelan firm for the Cerro Negro project.
The $300 million in PDVSA funds frozen in the United States in 2007 at Exxon's request must also be deducted, while ICC rules allow Venezuela to trim the remaining total by $161 million as long as Caracas pays within 60 days, the state oil giant said.
In 2007, Chavez's government forced foreign oil companies to convert their existing operating agreements into contracts that made them minority partners in joint ventures with PDVSA in the petroleum-rich Orinoco Belt.
While Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips refused to accept the new terms and left Venezuela, other oil majors including France's Total, Norway's Statoil, Britain's BP and San Ramon, California-based Chevron remained on as minority partners and received compensation.
The Orinoco Belt, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, is the world's largest petroleum reserve with more than 500 billion barrels of recoverable extra-heavy crude, which is more expensive to refine than lighter varieties of oil.
Exxon's complaint against Venezuela before the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes is still pending.