Venezuela Loses Bid for High Court Interference

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Supreme Court refused to let Venezuela block allegations that its seizure of oil-drilling facilities owned by U.S. companies violated international law.
     Venezuelan oil companies and the local subsidiaries of U.S. energy firms had enjoyed decades of cooperation before the government of former president Hugo Chavez announced in June 2010 that it nationalized the U.S. oil rigs to increase oil and gas production and open jobs for Venezuelans.
     The move led Petroleos de Venezuela and the Venezuelan National Guard to blockade facilities owned by Oklahoma-based Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Co. and its in-country subsidiary, Helmerich & Payne De Venezuela C.A.
     Citing the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Helmerich & Payne and its subsidiary filed a federal complaint in Washington against the Venezuelan government, alleging that the seizure of its rigs constituted a taking of property in violation of international law..
     The lawsuit also accuses PDVSA of breach of contract.
     Venezuela and PDVSA moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the seizure did not fall under FSIA exceptions for violations of international law or expropriation. They also claimed that the act-of-state doctrine bars the suit completely.
     In 2013, U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins dismissed only the expropriation claim of Helmerich & Payne’s Venezuelan subsidiary.
     The D.C. Circuit revived that expropriation claim by the subsidiary this past May, however, while also affirming that the parent company has standing.
     Though the lower court had advanced the subsidiary’s claim under the commercial-activity exception, the appellate panel reversed on this point.
     Venezuela petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay, but Chief Justice John Roberts shot the measure down without comment Tuesday.

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