March 22 (Reuters) - A unit of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA on the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire has declared bankruptcy, citing the impact of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, a court filing showed.
In a March 9 filing published last week by the Court of First Instance of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, PDVSA-owned Bonaire Petroleum Corporation (BOPEC) said it could no longer pay its debts because sanctions had cut off its “access to international trade,” as well as cash held in bank accounts.
The court granted BOPEC’s request for a moratorium on creditor payments in a filing that noted BOPEC said it was negotiating with “a party that may make the necessary liquid assets available” to allow the company to “satisfy its preferred creditors and offer a settlement to its unsecured creditors.”
Neither PDVSA nor Venezuela’s oil ministry immediately responded to requests for comment.
At its peak, BOPEC had the capacity to store some 10 million barrels of oil and load large vessels from its deep water docks. The company last year was ordered to remove stored oil due to the risk of leaks from its tanks.
The bankruptcy filing is the latest blow to PDVSA’s key network of refining and logistics assets in the Caribbean. The company is struggling to pay debts and maintain basic operations in Venezuela amid U.S. sanctions aimed at ousting President Nicolas Maduro. The sanctions have added to the impact of years of low investment and mismanagement.
PDVSA’s contract to operate Curacao’s 335,000 barrel-per-day Isla refinery and a neighboring storage terminal ended in December 2019, and PDVSA unit Citgo Petroleum Corp - now under the control of the U.S.-backed opposition to Maduro - last year transferred control of Aruba’s San Nicolas refinery to the island’s government.
Last year, Refineria de Korsou - which owns the Isla refinery - had sought to seize BOPEC to collect on debts owed by PDVSA. (Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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