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Exxon is first to go legal route in Venezuela dispute

nternational authorities could take three to four years before giving Exxon Mobil Corp. an answer to its dispute with the Venezuelan government over compensation for seized oil-production assets, analysts say.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, Exxon said it last week filed a request for arbitration with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a forum closely linked with the World Bank. The move comes after several months of talks between the company and the Venezuelan government.

Venezuelan officials have made it clear they are prepared to pay only book value for the assets, which Exxon says comes to $750 million. Exxon argues it should be paid market value, which would be considerably more.

The filing marks the first legal move following the nationalization of the assets in June. Before Exxon's filing, there was little information about where negotiations over the assets stood between Exxon and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

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