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Exxon seeks arbitration over Guyana

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US-based oil major ExxonMobil has filed for arbitration to settle the future of operations in the Stabroek block offshore of Guyana.

ExxonMobil currently operates the Stabroek block on behalf of a consortium made up of itself (45%), Hess Corp (30%) and CNOOC of China (25%).

Chevron Corp, the maker of the Texaco lubricant and grease range, is currently looking to acquire Hess along with its stake in the Stabroek block, but ExxonMobil asserts that it has first-refusal rights on assets in the block.

A senior vice president at ExxonMobil, Neil Chapman, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying:

“We’re confident that within this contract, we have pre-emption rights, and we have filed for arbitration to make sure that we can secure those pre-emption rights…The rights are to give us the opportunity to look at the value, which we can then match, should we choose to do so.”

Chapman’s words suggest that the company is considering making its own offer for Hess’s share in the block, which would take its interest to 75%. This reflects the value it is placing on the block, where oil reserves are currently estimated at around 11 billion barrels after making over 30 significant discoveries.

For their part, Chevron and Hess have stated that they do not believe the rights of first-refusal apply in this case because Chevron is acquiring Hess in its entirety, rather than just purchasing the Stabroek assets. Chapman said that a typical case of contract arbitration usually takes at least half a year.

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