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Curacao obtains US waiver for PDVSA run Isla refinery



By Argus

Petroleumworld 05 07 2019

Dutch-controlled Curacao said it received a US Treasury license that would clear the way to contract a new partner for its Isla refinery without running afoul of US sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA (PdV).

The specific license applies to the activities of state-owned Refineria di Korsou (RdK), Curacao Refinery Utilities (CRU) and fuel distributor Curoil, effectively allowing them to operate and conduct transactions, and allowing US companies to do business with them until 15 January 2020.

US financial and oil sanctions on Venezuela have been an operational impediment for the refinery, which has been operated by PdV under a long-term lease since the 1980s. In recent years, the refinery has been mostly shut down on a lack of feedstock, maintenance and utility services, threatening 2,000 local jobs. Activity at the associated Bullen Bay deepwater terminal has also slowed to a trickle.

PdV's lease of the facilities expires in December. Company officials have told Argus they would welcome the opportunity to retain access to Bullen Bay after the refinery lease lapses.

The refinery has a nameplate capacity of around 335,000 b/d but normally processed some 220,000 b/d.

The license award "is an important step in keeping the refinery operational and also for attracting new partners in the future of the refinery," Curacao's government said yesterday. "The US sanctions form a major barrier in both processes."

The government added that it will study the license to see if further provisions are required. Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath will discuss the matter in Washington in mid-May.

Among the companies that have previously entered discussions to take over the refinery operations are Saudi Arabia's US refining subsidiary Motiva and China's state-owned GZE. The government recently relaunched its campaign to find a new partner by appointing a group to manage the project which met with potential investors in the US and UK last month.

Curacao has played a part in the regional campaign to isolate the Venezuelan government by agreeing to allow the stockpiling of humanitarian aid on its soil, complementing aid stocks in Colombia and Brazil. Venezuela's US-backed opposition had tried to forcibly enter some aid through the Colombian border on 23 February, but aid trucks were repelled .

Curacao and fellow Dutch Caribbean islands Aruba, Bonaire and St Eustatius host an extensive network of PdV assets that have been targeted by creditors in recent years, creating a further headache for local governments.


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Story from Argus Media. 05 03 2019


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