Argentina judge embargoes up to $19 billion of Chevron assets over Ecuador case

11/7/2012

Argentina judge embargoes up to $19 billion of Chevron assets over Ecuador case

BY TAOS TURNER 

BUENOS AIRES -- Ecuadorean indigenous groups have moved a step closer to collecting on a multi-billion-dollar court award against Chevron after a judge embargoed up to $19 billion of the oil company's assets in Argentina, according to a lawyer involved in the case.

Last year, a court in Ecuador found Chevron liable for pollution in the Amazon and levied an $18.2 billion judgment against the company. That amount was later raised to $19 billion by an Ecuadorean judge.

Chevron doesn't have significant assets in Ecuador, but the plaintiffs have been trying to seize its assets in other countries to enforce settlement on the judgment.

Enrique Bruchou, lead attorney for the Ecuadoreans in Argentina, valued Chevron's assets in Argentina at $2 billion. Mr Bruchou said the embargo applies to 100% of Chevron's capital in Argentina, 100% of dividends, all of Chevron's stake in pipeline operator Oleoductos del Valle SA, 40% of Chevron's oil sales to Argentine refineries, and 40% of the money Chevron has deposited in Argentine banks.

"This process will continue in Asia, Oceania and Europe and we're working with the best law firms in those countries," he told reporters. In June, lawyers for the Ecuadoreans filed a lawsuit in Brazil one month after they launched a similar suit in Canada.

Chevron, which is the second-largest U.S. oil company after Exxon Mobil, has repeatedly denied the claims. The lawsuit in Argentina is the latest development in an almost 20-year legal dispute over claims that Texaco, which Chevron bought in 2001, contaminated parts of Ecuador's Amazon region when it was operating in the country.

The start of litigation in Argentina comes just as the country's state oil company, YPF, is courting Chevron to help it explore for potentially massive, but as yet untapped, unconventional oil and gas resources. In September, Chevron and YPF signed a memorandum of understanding to explore for unconventional energy in the South American nation.

Dow Jones Newswires

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