Exxon Chairman: Willing to Work with Venezuela if It Honors Contract

At an energy conference in London, ExxonMobil Chairman Robert Olsen said that his company legal battle with Venezuela is due to the South American country's failure to honor the terms and obligations of the original contract.

The $12 billion of assets frozen in international courts has become a hotly debated topic between Venezuela and ExxonMobil. Venezuela overtook 31 oil fields in that country, placing them under the operation of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and making the foreign oil companies minor partners in the respective projects.

Venezuela promised to end all dealings with ExxonMobil and threatened to end oil exports to the United States.

"This is an issue about contract sanctity that provides the basis for all parties to know their rights and responsibilities," Olsen told reporters at the conference.

Margaret Ross, an ExxonMobil representative, told Rigzone, "We cannot estimate how long the arbitration will take to come to a conclusion."

Olsen said ExxonMobil has been willing and will continue to cooperate with national governments in all the lands where the company operates. He said governments would like a "deeper" investment from foreign oil companies, initiating training and education for local employees and the facilitation of economic development for local industries in countries like Venezuela.

Olsen pointed to successful ventures in similar situations with governments like Russia and in the Gulf state of Qatar.

According to a statement from ExxonMobil, the company "has also obtained an attachment of approximately $300 million against PDVSA Cerro Negro from the federal district court for the Southern District of New York" in addition to the arbitration request filed Jan. 25.

"We remain willing to engage in substantive discussions with the Venezuelan government," Ross said.

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