Curacao resumes refinery operator search after top bidder Motiva withdraws

WILLEMSTAD - The government of Curacao is resuming talks with two candidates to operate the nation’s 335,000-barrel-per-day Isla refinery after its preferred bidder Motiva withdrew from consideration, the refinery said in a statement on Tuesday.
 
The government-owned refinery has operated under a contract with Venezuelan state-run oil firm PDVSA that lasts through December, but it began a search for a replacement last year after a dispute between PDVSA and U.S. oil producer ConocoPhillips kept the plant idled.
 
Selection of a new operator has been delayed by an investigation into corruption allegations related to the evaluation process. In its statement, the refinery said that delay and a review of other opportunities led its preferred bidder to withdraw.
 
“The team in charge of the process is already working together with international experts to quickly take the necessary steps,” the Refineria di Korsou, as it is known formally, said in its statement.
 
Curacao did not identify the preferred bidder in its statement, but local media said it was Motiva Enterprises, the U.S.-based arm of Saudi Aramco.
 
A spokesperson for Motiva declined to comment.
 
Motiva last year said it was “actively exploring a number of opportunities and locations” to boost its North American oil refining capacity to as much as 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd). Its plant in Port Arthur, Texas, is the largest U.S. refinery by capacity, processing 603,000 bpd.
 
A memorandum of understanding with PDVSA’s replacement was expected to be signed and disclosed in the middle of January, a refinery executive had said late last year.
 
The Isla refinery is committed to keeping the facility open, and in its statement on Tuesday said that PDVSA has expressed interest in continuing at the site. It did not identify the two remaining candidates in the evaluation of a new operator.

Top hotels sued for 'industry-wide failures' to prevent sex trafficking

NEW YORK--Landmark U.S. legal action was filed on Monday accusing several major hotel groups of profiting from sex trafficking on behalf of 13 women who claimed they were sold for sex in hotel rooms.

Agreement signed for renovation Courthouse Sint Maarten

PHILIPSBURG--Last week the Joint Court of Justice signed a construction agreement with Leeward Island Construction Company LICCOM for repairs and renovation of the historical Courthouse in the heart of Philipsburg.

Hotel art wall exceeded height allowed in building regulations

MARIGOT--The colourful murals on the perimeter wall fronting Hotel Mercure in Baie Nettle may be in jeopardy since a court ruling in Marigot deemed the height of the wall exceeds that permitted in the building regulations.