Court order for Curacao refinery to discharge Venezuelan oil

A refinery on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao has received a court order that requires shippers to discharge a cargo of Venezuelan oil seized by maritime companies due to debts owned by Venezuela’s state-run company PDVSA, Refineria di Korsou said in a statement on Monday.

The 335,000-barrel-per-day Curacao refinery halted operations last spring after US oil producer ConocoPhillips brought legal action to collect on a $2bn arbitration award. The refinery, which is owned by the island’s government and operated by PDVSA, began resuming processing last month and wants to discharge the oil so the tanker can return to Venezuela and pick up more crude for Curacao.

PDVSA restarted crude shipments to Isla in December 2018 but a cargo on tanker Icaro was seized in Curacao’s waters at the end of the month by Liberia-based shipping firm Exotic Waves Marina SA and Jordan-based Ammon Shipping and Transport based, according to local media reports.

“Our goal was to store the crude in onshore tanks so the Icaro could return to Venezuela to load crude bound for Curacao,” the refinery said earlier this week. adding that the oil would remain under embargo until the dispute with shipping companies was solved.

Reuters noted that several tankers with Venezuelan oil around the world have been retained by authorities or otherwise prevented from sailing because PDVSA has not paid bills for operation, hull cleaning, inspections and other marine services.

The crew of Venezuelan tankers Rio Arauca and Parnaso last week abandoned vessels that have remained anchored in Lisbon since 2017 over unpaid fees to managers Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM).

Curacao is selecting an operator to replace PDVSA when its contract expires later this year.