International tribunal awards $380 million to ConocoPhillips for Amazon land

A subsidiary of Houston-based ConocoPhillips won a $380 million judgement against Ecuador for the country’s “unlawful” seizure of rights the company held to oil and gas land in the Amazon rainforest, the company reported on Wednesday.

An arbitration tribunal of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes said Ecuador broke an investment treaty with the U.S. when it seized in 2009 production facilities on forest Blocks 7 and 21 held by Conoco subsidiary Burlington Resources.

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“The Tribunal’s decision on damages sends a clear message that governments cannot expropriate investments without fair compensation,” said Janet Carrig, a senior vice president at Conoco.

The tribunal found, however, that Ecuador was entitled to $42 million for limited environmental and infrastructure impacts associated with the operations of Burlington and partner Perenco, an oil and gas company headquartered in London and Paris.

The decision is not final, but Conoco said it would “strongly defend” any further challenge.