TEGUCIGALPA, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Honduras said on Tuesday its decision to take temporary control of oil storage terminals would affect industry giant Exxon Mobil Corp but not Chevron, which also has a terminal in the Central American nation.
President Manuel Zelaya’s legal advisor Enrique Flores said the government would take control of two oil storage terminals owned by Honduran company DIPPSA, including one in which Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) has a 50 percent stake.
But Flores said Chevron’s (CVX.N) wholly owned terminal would not be affected by Zelaya’s weekend decree to take control of the terminals as part of a government import program meant to drive down fuel prices.
He said DIPPSA signed a contract in 1990 that allows the government to assume control of its two terminals if it considers the move necessary.
“It is not an expropriation, or a nationalization. It is compliance with a contract,” Flores told Reuters.
No such contract exists with Chevron’s terminal, which has a storage capacity of 759,000 barrels, he said.
An Exxon Mobil spokesman said the company had not been notified of the Honduran government’s decision to take over the terminal it half owns.
The government wants to take control of imports away from oil companies that operate service stations in Honduras, saying it will save Honduras tens of millions of dollars a year. The fuel market here is dominated by Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell (RDSa.L).
Zelaya ordered the intervention on Saturday after failing to reach a deal with Exxon Mobil, Chevron and DIPPSA to rent their terminals. It at first appeared the order would also affect Chevron.
The companies oppose Zelaya’s plan, under which the government has already agreed a deal with Conoco Phillips (COP.N) to import at least 8.4 million barrels of gasoline and diesel a year.