Search for Isla Operator Starts Over

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Search for Isla Operator Starts Over
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Following another failed attempt to select an owner for the Isla Refinery in Willemstad, Curacao, the government agency that owns the refinery said it is again starting its search anew.

Refineria di Korsou announced it has selected a number of potential operators – out of more than 20 that showed interest – for the currently idle facility. The selected companies have been given a teaser document and other relevant information regarding the plant. RdK declined to name the parties involved.

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Site visits are also expected to take place in the coming weeks, the agency said. Refinery management and the committee installed to find an operator will hold presentations about the operations and maintenance of the facility along with environmental regulations.

The committee said it aims for interested companies to submit a binding proposal by the end of February.

This is the refinery’s first attempt to find an operator since negotiations with a consortium of local businesses – the Curacao Oil Refinery Complex – fell through last year following questions about the group’s finances and its ability obtain necessary permits.

At the time, Curacao’s Minister of Economic Development, Ruthmilda Larmonie-Cecilia, said RdK would employ a headhunter with the goal of finding a partner with enough crude oil and capital to operate the refinery, according to a report by the Curacao Chronicle.

Isla Refinery is a 335,000-barrels-per-day fuel refinery that had been operated by Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. since 1985.

The refinery includes a base oil plant with capacity to produce 5,000 b/d of API Group I paraffinic base oils and 3,700 b/d of naphthenic base stocks.

The facility has run only intermittently in the past couple of years because of PdVSA’s financial problems and its inability to secure crude oil stemming from legal issues and U.S. sanctions. Concerns have been raised that the facility’s lack of activity could lead to permanent damage to its equipment. The refinery is also a vital part of the local economy.

RdK has searched for a new operator of the facility since 2017, two years before PdVSA’s lease was set to expire. Chinese company Guangdong Zhenrong Energy was first selected for exclusive negotiations, followed by U.S.-based refiner Motiva then German oil trader Klesch Group. As with CORC, negotiations with all three companies eventually fell through.

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