April 15, 2021 [Curaçao Chronicle] – The state-owned company Curaçao Refinery (RdK) continues to negotiate with the Curaçao Oil Refinery Complex (CORC) consortium to restart the Isla oil refinery as a new government takes shape on the island.
Under the outgoing administration headed by now-caretaker prime minister Eugene Rhuggenaath, CORC won a tender to engage with RdK in exclusive talks to operate the refinery and associated deep water Bullen Bay terminal. The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding just before 19 March parliamentary elections, but the MOU lapsed with no agreement.
Since then, talks have continued even though no new MOU was signed, RdK and CORC indicated.
But the negotiations have slowed as the COVID-19 pandemic impedes economic activity and the new government is lined up. In last month’s elections, the opposition Movementu Futuro Korsou (MFK) won the largest share of parliamentary seats, and will work with the Christian Democratic party (PNP) on a new coalition administration to be sworn in next month. The incoming authorities are seeking to renegotiate economic aid from the Netherlands.
The oil assets are seen by Curacao’s outgoing and incoming administrations as critical to the island’s economy, more so since the pandemic devastated tourism.
CORC’s lead partner is Dick & Doof, a Dutch contractor that formerly serviced Shell’s Caribbean and Latin American downstream assets.
Curacao has long been struggling to restart the 335,000 b/d oil refinery and Bullen Bay terminal after Venezuelan state-owned PdV’s long-term lease ended in December 2019. Two earlier preliminary agreements, first with China’s state-owned Guangdong Zhenrong Energy (GZE) and and later with Germany’s Klesch, fell through.
In the waning years of PdV’s lease, the refinery had already languished because of a lack of investment and feedstock. When it was operating normally, the refinery ran around 220,000 b/d of Venezuelan crude. The storage terminal regularly hosted ship-to-ship operations for long-haul destinations.
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