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Venezuela's Energy Minister : PDVSA is ending Nynas partnership

Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez

CARACAS, Mar 20 2012

Venezuela is selling its stake in a refinery project with Finland's Neste Oil that operates facilities in Sweden and Britain, the South American country's energy minister said in comments published on Friday.

Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA and Neste Oil are 50-50 partners in Nynas AB, which runs four refineries with a combined capacity of 67,000 barrels per day (bpd).

They include Sweden's Nynaeshamn and Gothenburg facilities, which mostly use Venezuelan crude paraffin to make bitumen and naphthenic specialty products.

Caracas's El Mundo newspaper quoted Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez as saying in an interview that PDVSA was "in the process of liquidating the partnership."

"They do not value our Venezuelan crude fairly," he said, referring to the supply contracts for the facilities.

Ramirez did not give more details in the interview, and was not immediately available to comment on Friday.

A Neste Oil spokesman had no immediate comment.

In 2010, PDVSA sold its 50 percent stake in four Ruhr Oel refineries in Germany to Russia's Rosneft for $1.6 billion. Venezuela had long wanted to quit that project, saying it was unprofitable for PDVSA.

In addition to the Swedish refineries, Nynas AB also operates refineries in Dundee and Eastham in Britain.

Ramirez also said Venezuela expected a ruling by a World Bank arbitration panel later this year or early in 2013 over the nationalization of Exxon Mobil Corp assets in 2007.

"We are waiting for the result ... to dissolve any partnership we have with Exxon," he said, adding that relations with the U.S. oil major had been "complicated from the start."

He did not elaborate. PDVSA currently has a 50-50 stake with Exxon in the 184,000 bpd Chalmette refinery in Louisiana.

Ramirez's published comments were the second part of an interview with the newspaper. On Thursday, it quoted him saying PDVSA would continue to issue new bonds and that it was "absurd" to suggest its finances were not healthy.

Story by Daniel Wallis from Reuters

Reuters| Mar 16, 2012

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