Conoco Seizes Venezuelan Oil Assets in Curaçao

WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao—A court on the Dutch island of Curaçao has authorized the local subsidiary of U.S. oil giant ConocoPhillips to seize $636 million worth of assets held on the island by Petróleos de Venezuela SA.

The move comes as Houston’s Conoco seeks to recover $2 billion in a decade-old dispute over the expropriation of its Venezuelan oil projects by the nation’s socialist government, which is struggling with an economic crunch that has caused widespread shortages of food and medicine.

The Venezuelan state oil company, PdVSA, has defaulted on more than $2.5 billion in debt and isn’t expected to make any payments to Conoco or other firms that are suing for assets taken by the socialist government.

Curaçao Economy Minister Steve Martina said Sunday that Conoco already had taken control of some oil products at the Isla Curazao refinery, though he didn’t specify how much.

The Curaçao court’s May 4 ruling is a blow to Venezuela, which uses refineries on Curaçao and elsewhere in the Netherlands Antilles to store a significant portion of the oil it exports to its three main foreign markets: China, the U.S. and India.

An arbitration panel under the International Chamber of Commerce in late April found that Venezuela under the leadership of then-President Hugo Chávez in 2007 illegally expropriated joint-venture operations with ConocoPhillips.

—Copyright 2018 the Associated Press

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