Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, the largest and third-largest U.S. oil companies respectively, may win $2.5 billion from Venezuela for oil assets the country nationalized four years ago, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said. The two companies are currently in arbitration proceedings with Venezuela's government.
While Venezuela, an OPEC member, is South America's largest oil producer and a major supplier of crude to the U.S., subpar infrastructure and a lack of investment in the oil industry has hampered production since President Hugo Chavez began nationalizing assets owned by Western oil firms several years ago.
Ramirez said the government hopes to pay $2.5 billion combined to Exxon Mobil (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP) between the two cases, the Wall Street Journal reported. Asset sales by state-run Petroleos de Venezuela will not be necessary to foot the bill.
Ramirez said Venezuela is currently shipping 470,000 barrels of oil a day to China and expects to increase that to 600,000 barrels a day by the end of the year, the Journal reported.