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Last Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008, 12:04 GMT
Venezuela disputes Exxon's claims
President Hugo Chavez at a PDVSA oil rig
Hugo Chavez has threatened to cut all Venezuelan oil exports to the US
The Venezuelan government has accused US oil giant Exxon Mobil of exaggerating the value of the company's former investments in the country.

Exxon is seeking $12bn (6.1bn) in compensation from Venezuela's state energy group, PDVSA, after its interests were nationalised last year.

Earlier this week, a US court froze $12bn of PDVSA assets until the verdict of an international tribunal.

Venezuela has now said that Exxon's former interests are worth just $1.2bn.

Export threat

"They ask for too high an amount for their compensation," said Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez.

The dispute has already seen PDVSA stop selling oil to Exxon, which sources 5% of its crude from Venezuela.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has also entered the fray, accusing the US government of being behind Exxon's legal move.

Mr Chavez has also threatened to cut all Venezuelan oil exports to the US, although analysts said such a move was very unlikely as Venezuela needs the US dollars.

US Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said Exxon would easily replace the crude that PDVSA had stopped selling.

He added that the US government could also offer Exxon oil from the country's strategic reserve if needed.

The US government said it fully supported Exxon's legal move, calling it a "just and fair" compensation claim.

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