U.S. oil major ConocoPhillips has seized products belonging to Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA from the Isla refinery it runs on Curacao, an island official told Reuters on Sunday.
Conoco has won court orders allowing it to seize PDVSA assets on Caribbean islands, including Curacao, in efforts to collect on a $2 billion arbitral award linked to the 2007 nationalization of Conoco assets under late leader Hugo Chavez.
PDVSA products from the installations of the Isla refinery have been confiscated. We dont have any way to get them, said Steven Martina, Curacaos minister for economic development, who did not provide the amount or value of the seized products.
Conoco and PDVSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Martina added that Curacao was planning to meet with PDVSA and Conoco this week to discuss the dispute that has led Conoco to seize Venezuelan assets in the Caribbean, wreaking havoc on PDVSAs export chain.
The dispute has also caused worry on Curacao, a constituent country within the kingdom of the Netherlands with a vibrant tourism industry and deep-water ports used by the oil industry. The island is heavily dependent on the refinery, which provides as much as 10 percent of Curacaos gross domestic product and is a big source of employment on the island just off Venezuela.
“There is no need to be alarmed, fuel and services are guaranteed,” Curacao’s Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath said in a news conference on Sunday. He added that lawyers are also contacting Conoco to “reach a deal and negotiate.”
PDVSA is preparing to shut a Caribbean refinery that is running out of crude amid threats by Conoco to seize cargoes sent to resupply the facility, two sources with knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Friday.
But Martina said the 335,000 barrel-per-day Isla refinery was still operating, albeit at low levels, thanks to Curacao’s reserves.
Conoco moves to sell North Sea oilfields
Separately, Conoco is preparing to sell its North Sea fields as the company focuses on shale operations in its home market, industry and banking sources said.
The disposal of Conoco’s North Sea assets after more than 50 years in the British offshore basin could fetch as much as $2 billion, but it was unclear how much of the portfolio would be put up for sale, the three sources said.
Conoco declined to comment.
The company has yet to launch a formal process or appoint a bank but executives from Conoco have spoken in recent weeks to a number of North Sea operators and bankers to “gauge the appetite for the sale”, one of the sources said.
The assets include a 24 percent stake in the west Shetlands region’s Clair field, which its operator BP says is the largest undeveloped oil and gas resource in the UK North Sea. The Clair Ridge project is expected to begin production this year, according to BP.
Other fields include holdings in the Britannia and J-Block hubs.
Conoco’s production in the UK North Sea reached 75,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2017, its annual report said.
The company tried to sell some of its North Sea assets in 2014 but the process failed, the sources added.
Conoco is the latest major oil company seeking to exit the North Sea as production in the aging basin declines, other areas become more competitive and costs for dismantling aging infrastructure weigh.
Conoco earlier this year said it would cut some 450 jobs in Britain, more than a quarter of its U.K. workforce.