Curacao government freezes operator selection for Isla Refinery

WILLEMSTAD - The selection of a new, short-term operator for Curacao’s Isla refinery has been put on hold due to an investigation of corruption allegations in the tendering process, officials said last week.
The Curacao government has suspended its operator selection process, as negotiations “are still in status quo pending finalization of the internal investigation at Refineria di Korsou,” the company told Reuters, using the refinery's formal name.
An investigation was opened last November after the refinery’s supervisory board received allegations about the bidding. The managing director and two other employees were then put on temporary leave during the probe, which has delayed the selection, according to Reuters.
The government-owned 330,000-barrels-per-day (Bpd) refinery had been operated by Venezuela’s PDVSA under a long-term lease. However, given the struggles faced by the Venezuelan firm, the Curacao government has been searching for a new operator to replace PDVSA on a short-term basis, and then later on a longer-term basis. The contract with PDVSA expires in December.
Saudi Aramco’s U.S. subsidiary, Motiva Enterprises, was reportedly the chosen bidder to operate the facility. Some 15 companies participated in the bidding process, but no formal decision has been confirmed by the company or the government so far.

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