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An Exxon Mobil XOM-N arbitration case that could block the sale of Hess Corp HES-N to Chevron could drag on until year-end, Hess said in a U.S. securities filing on Friday.

The filing signals any closing of its $53-billion sale to Chevron CVX-N could fall into next year, at least six months later than a prior goal of finalizing the deal by mid-2024.

Exxon and CNOOC Ltd filed cases before the International Chamber of Commerce last month, seeking to claim a right to a first refusal over any sale of Hess’s 30 per cent stake in the giant Stabroek offshore oil block, home of the largest oil discovery in nearly a decade.

Hess, Exxon and CNOOC are the three members of a consortium developing the oil finds.

Exxon claims the right to first refusal is part of the consortium’s operating agreement, while Hess and Chevron have said they believe the rights do not apply.

Chevron CEO Michael Wirth said last month he was surprised by Exxon’s decision to halt discussions to settle the matter and pursue an arbitration case.

Hess said in its filing it seeks to have the merits of the arbitration heard by the third quarter of 2024 and complete the arbitration by the end of the year.

Both companies expect to obtain all requisite stockholder and regulatory approvals by the middle of 2024, but neither can predict the date on which the transaction will be completed, it added.

Hess and Exxon gave a financial go-ahead to a sixth oil project in Guyana on Friday. The project would add 250,000 barrels per day of production capacity by the end of 2027.

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