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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 06:21 GMT 07:21 UK
Exxon seeks deal on Venezuela oil
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Mr Chavez's government took control of the oil project in May
Exxon Mobil is seeking arbitration over a stand-off with Venezuela about the takeover of its oil assets.

The US oil firm made its case to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a group with close ties to the World Bank.

It has not said how much compensation it wants for the 41.7% stake in the Orinoco Belt oil field - worth an estimated $750m (370m).

Venezuela took over the oil project as part of a nationalisation drive.

"Exxon Mobil has worked with the Venezuelan government to reach an agreement regarding compensation based on the fair market value of the assets," company spokesman Len D'Eramo said.

"We are disappointed these discussions have not been successful."

As a result, the firm has applied to the independent, Washington-based centre to settle the rows.

Nationalisation drive

President Hugo Chavez's government took control of exploration projects in the Orinoco Belt, which had been among the last privately-run fields in the country.

It is the country's most important oil area, with massive potential.

There are proven reserves of at least 80 billion barrels, but there could be enough there to make Venezuela the world's biggest source of oil.

Four major companies - US-based Chevron, the UK's BP, French group Total and Norway's Statoil - accepted the government's move.

Only Exxon and ConocoPhillips refused to accept the terms of the deal, which made them junior partners in the project, by the June deadline.

ConocoPhillips said it is still in talks with the Venezuelan government and hopes to resolve the dispute amicably.

Officials in Venezuela declined to comment on the news.

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