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ConocoPhillips 'not close' to recouping $2 billion of Venezuelan assets: CEO

Houston — ConocoPhillips has begun the process of recovering over $2 billion in Venezuelan global assets that was awarded last month by an international trade court, but is "not close" to locating and taking back that sum, the company's CEO said Tuesday.

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ConocoPhillips began enforcement actions in early May and these are ongoing in the US, Caribbean, Asia and Europe, per the April 24 award, CEO Ryan Lance said at an annual shareholder meeting.

"We don't have an estimate today" of the amount that has already been located and seized, Lance said. "We're trying to look at where all the assets are [but] it's not close to $2 billion today. Over time we expect to recover it."

Different jurisdictions require a full appeals process before assets can be attached, he said, adding ConocoPhillips has filed in courts in the US, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean.


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According to press reports, the company is currently in the process of seizing refined products held by Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA on Curacao. That came after a court on the Dutch Caribbean island over the weekend ruled ConocoPhillips could seize $636 million worth of PDVSA assets.

ConocoPhillips' action has sparked supply concerns on Curacao. Three public companies -- Curoil, Aqualectra and Curacao Refinery -- said they will file a lawsuit against ConocoPhillips Tuesday, claiming the company is putting the island's fuel supplies at risk, according to the Curacao Chronicle.

"We have people in the islands today speaking with senior government officials," Lance said. "We're concerned about putting them in the middle of this thing, between PDVSA and ourselves...We want to minimize any impacts to people and islands" in that region.

Lance would not comment on the pending lawsuit.

The 335,000 b/d Isla refinery has been operated by PDVSA since 1985 under a rental agreement with Curacao. The current contract expires in 2019.

The government of Curacao said Monday it would be open to a third party operating the refinery temporarily.

The legal dispute was sparked when PDVSA seized control of ConocoPhillips' 50.1% interest in their Petrozuata joint venture, as well as the US company's 40% stake in the Hamaca project. Both are heavy-oil projects in the Orinoco Belt in eastern Venezuela.

ConocoPhillips, in turn, said it would seize PDVSA's property in Curacao and the neighboring Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire, including crude and products stored at both facilities.

--Starr Spencer, starr.spencer@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jeff Mower, newsdesk@spglobal.com