The Dutch Caribbean Island of Aruba is planning to look for new investors in Houston after negotiating an early end to a troubled contract with Citgo to restore and operate a long-idled refinery.
In a Wednesday morning press conference, Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes said the island’s government negotiated an early end to Citgo’s 25-year contract to repair and operate the 209,000 barrel per day refinery.
Citgo officials did not immediately reply for comment but Wever-Croes said the jobs of refinery workers would be protected and that the company would pay creditors and contractors while the government searches for a new opearator.
Configured to turn the heavy and high-sulphur crude oil from neighboring Venezeula into gasoline, diesel and other products, the Aruba Refinery was owned by San Antonio refining company Valero Energy Corp. but ceased operations in March 2012 amid multimillion losses.
The government of Aruba ultimately took over the property and gave Citgo a 25-year contract in Oct. 2016 to refurbish and operate the facility.
Citgo planned a $685 million overhaul and received $100 million of initial funding from its parent company Petroleos de Venezuela SA but the project became stalled after the United States levied economic sanctions to unseat Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro.
Aruba received bids from more than 25 companies when the Dutch-owned island originally announced the refinery rehabilitation project in 2016. Wever-Croes said the government will now begin neogitations with other companies.
“We’re looking for a serious partner that can invest immediately, make the refinery state of the art, comply with environmental standards, pay their fair share to the government and treat their employees well,” Wever-Croes said.
This article first appeared on the Houston Chronicle – an Energy Voice content partner. For more from the Houston Chronicle click here.