Curacao refinery temporarily exempted from US sanctions against Venezuela

Willemstad, Curacao
Willemstad, Curacao. (Photo: disorderly/DepositPhotos)

American companies can again do business with the Isla refinery in Curacao, despite United States sanctions against the Venezuelan state oil company PdVSA. The Curacao government owns the refinery and leases it to PdVSA, NOS reports

The US Department of Finance now issued a waiver to Curacao. The island is exempted from the sanctions until January 15th, 2020. According to the Curacao government, the exemption is an important step towards keeping the refinery open and attracting new partners for the future of the Isla refinery. Due to the sanctions, the refinery has not been operating for months.

The lease contract with the PdVSA expires on December 31st of this year. PdVSA has no money for the innovations required to meet new environmental standards, and Curacao is therefore looking for a new operator for the Isla refinery. The American sanctions were a major barrier for this. A large part of this obstacle has been removed with the exemption, even though it is only temporary, according to the broadcaster.

Exactly what the exemption will allow the refinery to do, still has to be worked out. According to NOS, it is likely that the exemption will allow the refinery to work for the Curacao and Bonaire markets, if not for the Venezuelan market. 

The Netherlands and Curacao previously helped the United States out by agreeing to the Americans' request to set up a humanitarian support point for Venezuela at Willemstad airport.

Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs is currently visiting Curacao to discuss the situation in Venezuela, a close neighbor for the Dutch island. On Tuesday Blok promised to assist the Curacao government in its search for a new strategic oil partner. 

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