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• zaterdag 27 november 2021 03:37

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CC | PDVSA lost appeal and is obliged to cancel outstanding debts for refinery operation in Curaçao

PdVSA verder in het nauw | Persbureau Curacao

WILLEMSTAD – The common court of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba dismissed the appeal made by Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and its subsidiaries Isla and Refinería Isla against a decision of first instance that obliges them to cancel the debts acquired by the operation of the Curaçao Refinery (RdK), until December 2019.

The ruling was issued by the magistrate Edward van der Bunt, and ratified by the other two judges of this court, who acted in cassation functions, in response to a hearing held on May 18. The corresponding document was released this Monday, August 30.

Basically, the Venezuelan state and Isla demanded the annulment of a judgment issued in the first instance at the beginning of 2020, on the one hand, and on the other, that the claim for compensation for damages derived from the abrupt cessation of the lease be admitted, which allowed PDVSA Isla to operate the crude refining complex in Curaçao, as well as the deep water terminal in the sector known as Bullenbaai.

According to court documents, the refining complex owned by the Curaçao government was leased to PDVSA in 1994. The following year, the Venezuelan state oil company transferred the rights as a tenant to a company formed for this purpose, Isla SA.

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In 2000, the lease was extended until December 31, 2019. Under this contract, the Venezuelan oil company agreed to pay Curaçao $ 20 million per year, and was “jointly and severally liable” for the debts acquired by the subsidiary Isla.

On December 30, 2019, Curaçao claimed its right to a “special termination” of the contract with Isla, and demanded that the company cancel 100 million dollars. Part of that debt was collected directly by Refineria di Korsou (RdK), against the stocks of crude oil and finished products, which were stored at the Bullenbaai terminal.

This complex had been inactive since 2018. In March 2020, the Curaçao government carried out the occupation of the facilities.

Although the cassation judgment broadly favors RdK, there were some aspects recognized in Isla’s favor. One of them refers to the impossibility of charging interest on arrears for the lease installments corresponding to the months of November and December 2019.

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Each monthly payment, of 1.66 million dollars, was duly paid with checks against accounts in Girobank, but RdK could not cash them because the bank was placed under emergency regulation by the Central Bank.

The court recognized in its ruling that the workers of the refinery changed employers, and that they are currently answerable to Curacao Refinery Utilities BV, a subsidiary of RdK. In practice, 500 people go to work for the island’s government. Part of the labor liabilities will be canceled with the sale of crude oil and derivatives that were at the dock.

With this ruling, however, Isla adds a new debt, since it will have to pay about 28,130 florins (15,623 dollars) for legal costs and lawyers.

Bron: Curacao Chronicle

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