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ConocoPhillips has won a court ruling allowing it to depose Citgo, the U.S. unit of troubled Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, Reuters reports. The move is part of Conoco’s offensive against PDVSA in a bid to enforce a court ruling that awarded it US$2 billion in compensation for the forced nationalization of company assets in Venezuela.
So far, as part of the effort to enforce the ruling, Conoco has seized a number of PDVSA assets in the Caribbean, adding to the company’s already substantial woes and trouble with fulfilling its export contracts. With oil production at the lowest in decades and with no cash to increase it, PDVSA is struggling, and Conoco is not pulling any punches.
The U.S. supermajor has alleged that PDVSA has transferred crude oil and oil products from a refinery and a storage facility in Curacao to Citgo in an attempt to prevent Conoco from seizing it, as it seized other assets and oil inventory in the Caribbean. It also claimed that PDVSA had told Citgo to claim ownership of several cargos docked at Aruba to avoid having them seized by Conoco.
Assets already seized by the supermajor include a 10-million-barrel storage facility on the island of Bonair, fuel inventories on Curacao, and two tankers in Aruba, one carrying 500,000 barrels of oil and the other with 300,000 barrels of jet fuel.
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Conoco is one of several companies suing Venezuela for the nationalization of assets by the Chavez government. The International Chamber of Commerce ruled in April that PDVSA owed the U.S. company US$2.04 billion in compensation for the nationalization of the Hamaca and Petrozuata oil projects.
There is also another ongoing Conoco case at the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, which has already ruled the nationalization a violation of international laws, and is now due to announce the size of the compensation that Venezuela owes Conoco.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.