- Associated Press - Monday, January 2, 2012

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela said Monday it has successfully defended itself in an international arbitration case brought by Exxon Mobil Corp. and will need to pay only $255 million of the more than $900 million awarded to the company.

State oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, said in a statement that debts and court action reduce what it owes under the more than $907 million ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce.

It said Exxon Mobil had previously used international courts to freeze $300 million in Venezuela’s U.S. accounts and that the company also has a debt of $191 million relating to financing of an oil project in the country, as well as $160 million that the arbitration tribunal said was due to PDVSA.

PDVSA called it a “successful defense” and said Exxon Mobil had initially demanded about $12 billion in compensation.

There was no immediate response from the Irving, Texas-based oil company. It confirmed the decision on Sunday, saying the arbitration body found that PDVSA “does have a contractual liability to Exxon Mobil.”

Exxon Mobil sought arbitration after President Hugo Chavez’s government nationalized an oil project in the country in 2007.

PDVSA said that Exxon Mobil’s compensation demands had been “completely exaggerated.”

“After four years of arbitration, the real amount determined by the ICC tribunal indeed represents less than the exorbitant sum initially demanded,” PDVSA said in the statement.

Exxon Mobil still has another arbitration case pending against Venezuela before the World Bank-affiliated International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

PDVSA said that Venezuela “will take all necessary steps to defend itself” in that case as well.

More than a dozen other arbitration cases involving Venezuela are also pending as companies have sought billions of dollars in compensation in response to nationalizations by Chavez’s leftist government.

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