UPDATE 3-Venezuela ordered to pay Exxon $1.6 bln for nationalization
* Arbitration tribunal orders Venezuela pay $1.6 bln to Exxon
* Award lower than Exxon wanted, gov't hails "victory"
* PDVSA source says Venezuela sees final amount at $1 bln (Recasts with details from PDVSA source, comments)
By Corina Pons and Alexandra Ulmer
CARACAS, Oct 9 (Reuters) - A World Bank arbitration tribunal on Thursday ordered Venezuela to pay Exxon Mobil Corp about $1.6 billion to compensate for oil nationalization in 2007, though state oil company PDVSA expects to eventually pay closer to $1 billion.
Venezuela's socialist government hailed the long-awaited decision as a victory for its "sovereignty," given the U.S. multinational's hope for a much larger award in a compensation case typical of the sweeping nationalizations under the late Hugo Chavez's 14-year rule.
Still, the decision by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes' (ICSID) comes at a delicate time for cash-strapped Venezuela, already struggling with a sluggish economy, rampant inflation and looming bond payments.
Venezuela said it would pay the award, only after deducting a previous Exxon award from the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) of $908 million.
A source at state oil company PDVSA familiar with the case told Reuters that, factoring interest into the ICSID-ordered compensation, the final amount would be reduced to roughly $1 billion. PDVSA took over Exxon's operations under the nationalization. Continuación...