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Venezuela Wants OPEC to Study Exxon Fight

By Reuters
Saturday, 1 Mar 2008 | 1:55 PM ET

Venezuela wants next week's OPEC meeting to discuss its escalating legal battle with Exxon Mobil, a Venezuelan official was reported by Algeria's official APS news agency as saying on Saturday.

Hugo Chavez
Howard Yanes
Hugo Chavez

The official, Alvaro Silva Calderon, said after meeting OPEC President and Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil that the question should be raised at the next meeting of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

OPEC meets in Vienna on March 5 under pressure from consumer nations to hike output to help tame prices.

Venezuela cut commercial ties to Exxon after it won court orders freezing up to $12 billion in Venezuela's assets.

Silva Calderon, a special envoy of President Hugo Chavez, also met Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, APS reported. "I have been charged by President Chavez with presenting and explaining the problem Venezuela has had, in particular with an oil company which is trying to attack and outflank us with legal means," APS quoted Calderon as saying.

Calderon had also informed Khelil of the matter and wanted it brought up during the next meeting of OPEC, APS said.

Exxon is claiming compensation for Venezuela's takeover of the Cerro Negro heavy crude project as part of Chavez's nationalization crusade meant to advance his self-styled socialist revolution.

Chavez told foreign oil companies last year to cede a majority stake in oil projects or leave the country. Most agreed and accepted bids for stakes in their projects from state oil company PDVSA that analysts said were below market value. Exxon opted to pull out rather than concede and has applied for international arbitration to win damages.

Pending the outcome, Exxon , the world's largest fully publicly quoted oil company by market value, has convinced courts in Britain, the United States and the Netherlands to freeze Venezuelan assets.

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