(Reuters) - U.S. oil major ConocoPhillips (COP.N) has seized products belonging to Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA [PDVSA.UL] 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 don’t have any way to get them,” said Steven Martina, Curacao’s 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 PDVSA’s 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 Curacao’s 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.
GRAPHIC - A list of PDVSA's key Caribbean assets:tmsnrt.rs/2wnEQVS
Reporting by Sailu Urribarri; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Lisa Shumaker