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Report: Curaçao selects Motiva to run idled 335,000 bbl/d refinery

The government of Curaçao has preliminarily selected Motiva Enterprises LLC to replace Petróleos de Venezuela SA, known as PDVSA, as the operator of the island's 335,000 barrel-per-day Isla refinery, according to local media reports citing sources close to the negotiations.

The refinery was idled in May following a legal dispute between state-run PDVSA and Houston-based oil producer ConocoPhillips.

Curaçao chose the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. subsidiary as the "preferred bidder" to run the refinery beginning in 2020, the Curaçao Chronicle reported Dec. 16. The report said the winning bidder could take over as operator before 2020 if the parties negotiate a separate deal.

PDVSA's contract to run the facility expires in 2019. Government officials confirmed to the Chronicle they had chosen a company to operate the refinery but declined to name which company until a final agreement had been signed.

Earlier this year, Motiva said its 600,000 bbl/d Port Arthur, Texas oil refinery would "be the primary focus of an estimated $18 billion growth effort throughout the Americas." But following media reports that it was abandoning its plans due to the risk posed by hurricanes, a company spokesperson clarified that Motiva was weighing additional refinery assets, not necessarily an expansion of the Port Arthur facility. Experts say U.S. expansion options are limited.

The Chronicle reported local utilities supplying water and electricity to the Isla facility are expected to resume service this month as the refinery prepares to restart.