All your refinery are belong to us

Quico says: Exxon Mobil has obtained a series of court orders freezing up to $36 billion (no, that’s not a typo) worth of PDVSA assets in the US, UK, Netherlands and Dutch Antilles, pending arbitration over the seizure of their assets in the Orinoco Belt upgrading projects.

Guess Chávez should’ve sold off all those foreign assets before randomly stealing Exxon’s stuff. Ooops.

Big story. Big consequences. Stay tuned.

Update: It turns out that was a typo. This Reuter’s article clarifies that the maximum sum that could be frozen world wide by the three concurrent court orders is $12 billion.

This Bloomberg piece provides lots of interesting detail:

The U.S. freeze is less than 3 percent the size of the U.K. and Netherlands orders because Exxon Mobil reckoned it would be more difficult to obtain a freeze on PDVSA’s U.S. refineries and filling stations without first winning at trial. In the meantime, PDVSA probably would sell the plants, Exxon Mobil’s U.K. lawyer said.

The asset freezes will damage PDVSA’s ability to raise funds from international investors for drilling and refinery projects, said Asdrúbal Oliveros, chief economist at Caracas-based Ecoanalitica. He estimated PDVSA has $13 billion in “liquid” international assets.

“This is going to put a lot of pressure on country risk, and on the price of the company’s bonds in the international market,” Oliveros said. “Loaning money to a company that’s in this kind of dispute, and also is facing this kind of injunction, is going to be very delicate.”

Reuters also tries to assess just how screwed PDVSA is now.