Oxy Files Claim Against Ecuadorean Government

Occidental Petroleum Corp. on Wednesday filed an arbitration claim against the government of Ecuador, asserting that it is seeking redress for the government's illegal confiscation of Oxy's Block 15 operations that country.

Oxy filed its claim with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, D.C., invoking the protections of the US-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty. It has requested the arbitration panel order interim relief by restoring its rights in Ecuador and preventing Ecuador from replacing Oxy with another third-party operator in Block 15 until its claims can be decided, a process that could take well over a year.

On Monday of this week, the Ecuadorean government notified Oxy that it was seizing the company's Block 15 assets, effective immediately. According to the company, the process resulting in the act of expropriation began more than two years ago shortly after Oxy prevailed--by unanimous decision of an international arbitration panel--in a legal dispute over tax refunds that the Ecuadorean government wrongfully withheld from the company. The panel's decision was subsequently upheld by a London court. Oxy said that it intends to vigorously pursue redress for damages resulting from Ecuador's illegal seizure of its Block 15 assets.