U.S. oil firm ConocoPhillips has moved to take Caribbean assets of Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA to enforce a $2 billion arbitration award over a decade-oil nationalization of its projects in the South American country, according to three sources familiar with its actions.
The U.S. firm targeted facilities on the islands of Curacao, Bonaire and St. Eustatius that accounted for about a quarter of Venezuela’s oil exports last year. The three play key roles in processing, storing and blending PDVSA’s oil for export.
Conoco’s claims against Venezuela and state-run PDVSA in international courts have totaled $33 billion, the largest by any company.
PDVSA has significant assets in the Caribbean. On Bonaire, it owns the 10-million-barrel BOPEC terminal which handles logistics and fuel shipments to customers, particularly in Asia. In Aruba, PDVSA and its unit Citgo lease a refinery and a storage terminal.
On the island of St. Eustatius, it rents storage tanks at the Statia terminal, owned by U.S. NuStar Energy, where over 4 million barrels of Venezuelan crude were retained by court order.
This will further cripple Venezuela’s ability to export oil.
Conoco’s actions would affect about 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) typically shipped from the three locations, about a third of its exports. In the first quarter, PDVSA exported 1.19 million bpd of crude from its terminals in Venezuela and the Caribbean, a 29-percent decline versus the same period last year.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose $1.01, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $70.73 a barrel. This was the first time since November 2014 that WTI had climbed above $70. Brent crude futures jumped $1.30, or 1.7 percent, to settle at $76.17 a barrel.