Pan American files for arbitration against Bolivia

LA PAZ, April 27 (Reuters) – Argentine-based energy firm Pan American Energy has filed a case for arbitration against Bolivia at a World Bank tribunal over the nationalization of its subsidiary in the Andean nation last year.

The World Bank International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, ICSID, said on its website on Tuesday that it had accepted a case for arbitration proceedings filed by Pan American against Bolivia, but gave no further details.

Officials at Bolivia’s Nationalizations Ministry said they could not comment on the ICSID announcement.

Bolivia is likely to argue the tribunal has no jurisdiction because the government pulled out of the ICSID in 2007, accusing the tribunal of favoring big corporations in its rulings.

Bolivia’s government seized control of natural gas producer Chaco from Pan American Energy in January 2009 after talks over a share transfer broke down.

Leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales wanted Pan American to transfer some of its shares in Chaco to state-run energy company YPFB, which at the time had a 49 percent stake.

Pan American Energy, an Argentina-focused oil and gas producer, is 60 percent-controlled by BP Plc, , while Argentina’s Bridas Holdings holds the remaining 40 percent.

Chinese oil firm CNOOC’s (0883.HK: Quote, Profile, Research) purchased a stake in Bridas last month gaining a foothold in reserve-rich Latin America. [ID:nTOE62E03K]

Pan American has output of around 220,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, equally split between oil and gas.

Several companies including Swiss commodity trader Glencore and Euro Telecom International (TLIT.MI: Quote, Profile, Research) have sought arbitration by international tribunals over the state takeover of their assets by Bolivia in recent years.

Morales has nationalized energy, mining and telecommunication companies since first taking office in January 2006. He was inaugurated for a second term in January.

Source: Reuters

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