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Curacao resumes refinery operator search after top bidder withdraws

February 13/2019

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The government of Curacao is resuming talks with two candidates to operate the nations 335,000-barrel-per-day Isla refinery after its preferred bidder withdrew from consideration, reported Reuters with reference to the refinery's statement.

The government-owned refinery has operated under a contract with Venezuelan state-run oil firm PDVSA that lasts through December, but it began a search for a replacement last year after a dispute between PDVSA and US oil producer ConocoPhillips kept the plant idled.

Selection of a new operator has been delayed by an investigation into corruption allegations related to the evaluation process. In its statement, the refinery said that delay and a review of other opportunities led its preferred bidder to withdraw.

"The team in charge of the process is already working together with international experts to quickly take the necessary steps," the Refineria di Korsou, as it is known formally, said in its statement.

Curacao did not identify the preferred bidder in its statement, but local media said it was Motiva Enterprises, the US-based arm of Saudi Aramco.

A spokesperson for Motiva declined to comment.

Motiva last year said it was "actively exploring a number of opportunities and locations" to boost its North American oil refining capacity to as much as 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd). Its plant in Port Arthur, Texas, is the largest US refinery by capacity, processing 603,000 bpd.

A memorandum of understanding with PDVSAs replacement was expected to be signed and disclosed in the middle of January, a refinery executive had said late last year.

The Isla refinery is committed to keeping the facility open, and in its statement on Tuesday said that PDVSA has expressed interest in continuing at the site. It did not identify the two remaining candidates in the evaluation of a new operator.

As MRC wrote before, in December 2018, Motiva Enterprises was preliminarily chosen by the government of Curacao to operate the 335,000-barrel-per-day Isla refinery, replacing Venezuelas state-run PDVSA. The refinery has been idle since May 2018 when a legal dispute between PDVSA and US producer ConocoPhillips forced its closure.
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:crude and gaz condensate, ConocoPhillips, Motiva Enterprises, USA.
Category:General News
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