HOUSTON/CARACAS (Reuters) - 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.
The company received court attachments freezing assets at least two of the facilities, and could move to sell them, one of the sources said.
Conoco’s legal maneuvers could further impair PDVSA’s declining oil revenue and the country’s convulsing economy. Venezuela is almost completely dependent on oil exports, which have fallen by a third since its peak and its refineries ran at just 31 percent of capacity in the first quarter.
The Latin American country is in the grip of a deep recession with severe shortages of medicine and food as well as a growing exodus of its people.
PDVSA and the Venezuelan foreign ministry did not respond on Sunday to requests for comment. Dutch authorities said they are assessing the situation on Bonaire.
Conoco’s claims against Venezuela and state-run PDVSA in international courts have totaled $33 billion, the largest by any company.
“Any potential impacts on communities are the result of PDVSA’s illegal expropriation of our assets and its decision to ignore the judgment of the ICC tribunal,” Conoco said in an email to Reuters.