CARACAS, Dec 2 (Reuters) - The World Bank’s international arbitration panel will not decide this year whether to take up Venezuela’s request for a revision of an award that ordered it to pay Exxon Mobil Corp in compensation for oil projects nationalized in 2007, a lawyer for the country told Reuters on Tuesday.
The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in October temporarily suspended enforcement of an order that Venezuela pay Exxon $1.6 billion following the country’s request for a revision.
The original tribunal was then reconstituted on Oct. 30 and is considering whether to review the award or not, said lawyer George Kahale with Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP.
“We are just at the beginning of the proceeding and in the process of establishing the schedule,” said Kahale, adding filings will be made by the parties “in the first few months of next year.”
Venezuela requested the revision because it argues a previous Exxon award from Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce for $908 million should be deducted from the ICSID award. It says it will end up paying less than $1 billion to Exxon.
The suspension grants the cash-strapped OPEC country some breathing room as it struggles with lower oil prices, arrears with private companies and debt payments.
Exxon had asked a U.S. District Court to enforce the claim.
The high-profile compensation case is typical of the sweeping nationalizations during late president Hugo Chavez’s 14-year rule.
Chavez nationalized a range of oil projects, including the Cerro Negro heavy crude project and a smaller project called La Ceiba, both operated by Exxon.
U.S. oil company ConocoPhillips has filed for arbitration over the takeover of its oil projects in Venezuela, with a final ICSID decision expected next year. (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)