Curacao’s state-owned Refineria di Korsou (RdK) is still negotiating with the Corc consortium to restart the Isla oil refinery, as a new government takes shape on the Dutch-controlled island.

Under the outgoing administration headed by now-caretaker prime minister Eugene Rhuggenaath, Corc won a tender to engage with RdK in exclusive talks to operate the refinery and associated deepwater Bullen Bay terminal. The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) just before the March 19 parliamentary elections, but the MOU lapsed with no agreement.

Since then, talks have continued even though no new MOU was signed, RdK and Corc say.

But the negotiations have slowed as the pandemic has impeded economic activity and the new government is lined up. In last month’s elections, the opposition Movementu Futuro Korsou (MFK) won the largest share of parliamentary seats, and will work with the Christian Democratic party (PNP) on a new coalition administration to be sworn in next month. The incoming authorities are seeking to renegotiate economic aid from the Netherlands.

The oil assets are seen by Curacao’s outgoing and incoming administrations as critical to the island’s economy, more so since the pandemic devastated tourism.

Corc’s lead partner is Dick and Doof, a Dutch contractor that formerly serviced Shell’s Caribbean and Latin American downstream assets. The refinery was built by Shell and commissioned in 1918.

Curacao has long been struggling to restart the 335,000 b/d oil refinery and Bullen Bay terminal after Venezuelan state-owned PdV’s long-term lease ended in December 2019. Two earlier preliminary agreements, first with China’s state-owned Guangdong Zhenrong Energy (GZE) and later with Germany’s Klesch, fell through.

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19th April 2021