CARACAS — Venezuela will not recognize any decisions by the World Bank's arbitration forum, President Hugo Chavez said Sunday, digging his heels in over a multibillion-dollar dispute with ExxonMobil.

"We have to get out of the ICSID," Chavez said, referring to the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes. "We do not recognize any ICSID decisions at all."

Foreign companies have filed some 20 claims worth billions of dollars with the World Bank's arbitration tribunal in the wake of a wave of nationalizations by the Chavez government.

Among them is ExxonMobil, which filed a claim for compensation after Chavez seized the US oil giant's assets in the Cerro Negro project in 2007 as part of a widespread expropriation campaign.

An arbitration board of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce last week awarded ExxonMobil $907 million in compensation, far below the $12 billion it originally sought in the related case.

A statement by the state-owned oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) said the Venezuelan government would pay only $255 million to the US firm to settle the dispute.

"The larger ICSID arbitration against the government of Venezuela is ongoing and is expected to be argued in February," ExxonMobil spokesman Patrick McGinn told AFP earlier this month.

"We recognize Venezuela's legal right to expropriate assets subject to compensation at fair market value."

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