We interrupt your New Year's day hangover to inform... (UPDATED)

…that 2012 has started very well for the Chávez administration. In a decision that I still can’t really quite fully believe, a World Bank International Chamber of Commerce arbitration panel has settled ExxonMobil’s dispute over the expropriation of its Cerro Negro project in the Orinoco Tar Belt for a sum that’s practically an invitation to the government to do it again – $908 million, far, far below what the gringos wanted.

Since it happened on New Year’s Day, the news is likely to fly under the radar somewhat. But unless I’m missing something here, it’s a stunning win for the Chávez administration, which sees one major cloud over its Election Year spending binge plans lifted right as the year starts. Yow.

Update: The Devil has the details. Cuz, as everyone knows, the devil is in the…excrement.