Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro greets workers behind a PDVSA flag in Morichal, Venezuela. Picture: REUTERS
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro greets workers behind a PDVSA flag in Morichal, Venezuela. Picture: REUTERS

Willemstad — A Curacao court has authorised ConocoPhillips to seize about $636m in assets belonging to Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA due to the 2007 nationalisation of the US oil major’s projects in Venezuela.

The legal action was the latest in the Caribbean to enforce a $2bn arbitration award by the International Chamber of Commerce over the nationalisation.

The court decision, reported by Caribbean media outlet Antilliaans Dagblad on Saturday, says Curacao can attach "oil or oil products on ships and on bank deposits".

Conoco and PDVSA did not respond to requests for comment on the decision.

Conoco earlier in May moved to temporarily seize PDVSA’s assets on the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and St Eustatius.

That threw Venezuela’s oil export chain into a tailspin just as the country’s crude production has crumbled to a more than 30-year low due to under-investment, theft, a brain drain and mismanagement.

PDVSA transferred ownership of crude to be refined at Isla to its US unit, Citgo Petroleum

Reuters reported on Friday that PDVSA was preparing to shut down the 335,000 barrel-per-day Isla refinery it operates in Curacao amid threats by Conoco to seize cargoes sent to resupply the facility.

PDVSA is also seeking ways to sidestep legal orders to hand over assets.

The Venezuelan firm has transferred custody over the fuel produced at the Isla refinery to the Curacao government, the owner of the facility, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

PDVSA transferred ownership of crude to be refined at Isla to its US unit, Citgo Petroleum, one of the sources said.

For the time being, PDVSA has suspended all oil storage and shipping from its Caribbean facilities and concentrated most shipping in its main crude terminal of Jose, which is suffering from a backlog.

Reuters

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