Published On: Thu, Jan 11th, 2018

Oil seizure aggravates Venezuela-Curaçao tensions

Ktk-Oil-tanker-ProteoWILLEMSTAD - The seizure of a crude cargo in Curacao's Bullen Bay terminal has further aggravated tensions between Venezuela and Dutch Caribbean islands that have long provided refining and logistical support to Venezuela's beleaguered state oil industry. This is according to a report by

The Panama-flagged Proteo was detained by as-yet unknown private parties after it loaded a cargo and tried to leave the terminal, according to an official at Bullen Bay. The Proteo is an Aframax tanker with a capacity of about 600,000-700,000 bl.

The seizure, for which details remain sketchy, is related to Venezuelan state-owned PDVSA’s myriad of overdue debts. A Curaçao government official told Argus the incident is a private commercial matter.

"This has to do with PDVSA’s commercial arrangements, and reflects the company's financial problems," the official said. "We are not involved in these matters, but we are concerned that this — and other and similar developments — could affect the operations of the Isla refinery that is important to our economy."

The tanker incident coincides with a broader souring of relations between Caracas and the islands of Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire.

On 5 January the Venezuelan government announced a 72-hour closure of air and sea links with the islands, and later said the closure would be indefinite until the islands' authorities tamp down on smuggling of Venezuelan goods, including minerals.

A lasting break in commercial ties would damage the economies of the islands that rely on revenue from PDVSA’s current and planned involvement in oil refining, bunkering and storage.

A Dutch interior ministry spokesman told the news agency that specializes in the oil sector that a meeting will be held in Aruba this Friday with officials from the islands and Venezuela to try to diffuse tensions. Currently visiting the region is Raymond Knops, the Dutch minister in charge of relations with the islands.

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