PDVSA's impaired Bonaire's Bopec terminal mostly dormant
Petroleumworld 03 06 2019
Venezuelan state-owned PdV's 10mn bl Bopec oil terminal is mostly dormant because of lagging repairs, severing another critical link in the company's once-bustling Dutch Caribbean logistical network.
Bopec, located on the tiny Dutch island of Bonaire, will receive inspectors again next month from the environment and transport inspectorate (ILT), part of the Netherlands' ministry of infrastructure and water management.
"As a result of the economic crisis in Venezuela" Bopec operations "have decreased considerably. Repairs and clean-up must be carried out before the restart of operations," the ILT told Argus today, adding that the next inspection is a follow-up to check on the "required investments."
The agency did not specify the investment amounts.
The safety and environmental inspection follows an ILT decision last month not to impose an order for administrative coercion, known an LOB in Dutch, which would have obligated Bopec to empty its tanks and pipelines, according to a 28 February 2019 statement from the agency.
At the time, the ILT said the situation was "currently acceptable. Because BOPEC eliminated the main risks within several months with a limited investment budget, it was not necessary to impose the LOB."
The ILT said "few or no tankers are docking at BOPEC and only a few tanks are still in service," but the terminal can continue to supply a local power plant. "Improvement plans are in place for when an investment budget becomes available."
The ILT conducted inspections at Bopec in February, March, April and October 2018. The agency said PdV directors are often present during the Bopec inspections.
Elsewhere in the Dutch Caribbean, PdV leases the 325,000 b/d Isla refinery and Bullen Bay terminal in Curacao. The refinery has been mostly out of service for at least a year and only a few vessels pass through the bay for transhipment to other destinations such as Cuba.
In Aruba, PdV's US refining subsidiary Citgo leases a mothballed refinery and terminal, but activity is stalled there as well. A project to refurbish the refinery into a heavy-crude upgrader is halted, and the storage tanks are all empty except for one in which all remaining crude has been consolidated, a local shipping source tells Argus .
On St Eustatius, terminal operator NuStar said in January that its exposure to PdV had been "reduced substantially" after reaching an agreement in 2018. As part of the deal, PdV reduced its storage capacity at the St Eustatius terminal by about half, opening that capacity for lease to third parties.
PdV's Dutch Caribbean corridor was cut off altogether in May 2018 after US independent ConocoPhillips imposed liens on the company's assets to try to enforce an arbitration award. Following an August 2018 settlement, PdV continues to face court-ordered seizures of its cargoes and tankers, as occurred with the Panama-flagged Icaro off Curacao last month .
US oil sanctions imposed on 28 January have further suppressed freight traffic as PdV struggles to import products and exports its heavy crude.
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