Venezuela To Pay Total $834M In Compensation

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Venezuela's Petroleos de Venezuela, PdVSA, will pay a European oil company $834 million in compensation for its stake in a nationalized oil project, the company said Thursday.

Total Oil (TOT) will receive in the end $834 million in compensation for its participation in the Sincor oil venture that was nationalized last year, PdVSA confirmed in a statement. The company gave no more details.

"The relations between Total and PdVSA have been strengthening to the point that the Venezuelan company agreed this year to pay Total $834 million in oil as compensation for accepting a PdVSA majority stake in Sincor," the statement read.

Total's President Christophe de Margerie recently revealed the compensation figure and said the company has every intention of maintainig a presence in Venezuela.

The final compensation figure is higher than the $735.3 million in oil detailed in the compensation agreement between PdVSA and Total. So far the companies have not offered an explanation for the discrepancy.

Based on the accord, Norway's Statoil ASA (STO) will receive $130 million in compensation.

President Hugo Chavez's government last summer took controlling stakes in four heavy oil ventures previously controlled by foreign companies.

Chavez offered companies the option of taking minority stakes or leave. Total and Statoil decided to stay while U.S. companies ExxonMobil (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP), rejected the terms. Both companies then filed for arbitration.

Exxon has now moved to freeze more than $12 billion in PdVSA's assets overseas in a bid to secure payment if and when the arbitration panel rules in its favor, a move that has hightened political tension between Venezuela and the U.S.

Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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