Oil and Gas

Bonaire orders Venezuela's PDVSA to remove oil from storage tanks

Aug 27 (Reuters) - The government of Caribbean island Bonaire has ordered Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela to move oil stored in its 10 million-barrel BOPEC oil terminal on the island to safer tanks due to environmental risks.

In a Wednesday statement, Bonaire’s Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) said PDVSA had not performed maintenance projects in recent years due to a lack of funding, resulting in a risk of leaks.

“The ILT considers this unacceptable and is taking the necessary measures in order to take away risks,” the agency said.

PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ILT said there were five tanks at the terminal filled with fuel oil, and that BOPEC in July reported that the floating roof on one tank had a leak, which could cause a spill in the event of heavy rain.

The agency said the terminal’s jetties were in such poor shape that ships could not load or unload oil. It said it would inspect two empty tanks and order the oil be transferred there.

The move is the latest blow to PDVSA’s oil refining and logistics network in the Dutch Caribbean islands off Venezuela’s coast. The company’s contract to operate Curacao’s Isla refinery has expired, and Aruba’s government has taken control of that island’s refinery, which was run by PDVSA unit Citgo.

As Venezuela suffers a six-year hyperinflationary economic crisis, PDVSA’s crude output has plummeted and it has slashed investment in its overseas assets.

Earlier this year, Refineria di Kursou (RdK) - the Curacao state company that owns the 335,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Isla refinery - sought to seize BOPEC with the intention to sell it to collect on debt owed by PDVSA.

RdK earlier this month relaunched a search for a new company to operate the refinery following PDVSA’s departure, after a previous deal reached with Klesch Group fell through.

Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis