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ConocoPhillips 'Encouraged' by Venezuela Talks

Reuters
Wednesday, 3 Oct 2007 | 3:06 PM ET

ConocoPhillipsChief Executive James Mulva said on Wednesday he was "encouraged" by talks with Venezuela on reaching a compensation deal over the seizure of the oil company's assets there.

Mulva told reporters the aim of continuing negotiations with Venezuelan officials is to reach an "amicable settlement," and he met with the Venezuelan oil minister Rafael Ramirez over the weekend.

"I just feel encouraged that we continue good discussions with the minister and the ministry people, and I would expect that to continue for the next weeks or months ... We continue to make progress," Mulva said.

Earlier this year, President Hugo Chavez nationalized four multibillion dollar projects to upgrade heavy crude oil production facilities in the Orinoco reserve.

While BP, Total, Statoiland Chevron renegotiated their positions in those projects to keep minority stakes, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil quit the country.

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Exxon failed to reach a compensation deal with Caracas and has taken Venezuela to international arbitration.

Mulva declined to comment on whether ConocoPhillips would also seek arbitration if the talks did not yield a settlement.

"I think it's probably best at this point in time if we address our efforts to discussions and negotiations at this point in time," he said.

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