REFILE-Curacao inks deal with China firm to run Isla refinery
(Refiles to fix dateline)
By Sailu Urribarri
ORANJESTAD, Aruba, Sept 19 (Reuters) - The government of Curacao has signed a preliminary agreement with China's Guangdong Zhenrong Energy to operate the aging Isla refinery and invest some $10 billion in upgrading the facility, according to an agreement made public on Monday.
Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA has for decades operated the refinery, which opened in 1918, under a lease agreement. But the cash-poor PDVSA has been reluctant to invest some $1.5 billion that Curacao authorities requested several years back to modernize the 335,000-barrels-per-day facility.
"Unfortunately, all the government's efforts to reach a new contract with Venezuela did not yield positive results," Curacao Prime Minister Bernard Whiteman said in a video posted on the government's website on Monday. "Curacao could not wait any longer; we had to look at other alternatives."
He added that Guangdong Zhenrong would "finance, modernize and operate the refinery, the storage terminal and dock."
Guangdong Zhenrong, a state-controlled commodities trader, will also assist in modernizing the water and electricity plants as well as aid in the construction of a new gas terminal, he said.
The memorandum of understanding between the two parties lays out a two-month timeframe for negotiations with the possibility for a two-month extension.
PDVSA and Guangdong Zhenrong did not respond to emails seeking comment. Continuación...