Court of First Instance orders sale of held Venezuelan oil at Sovcomflot’s request

ST. EUSTATIUS–The Court of First Instance on St. Maarten has ordered state-run oil company PDVSA to cooperate on selling some 500,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude held on St. Eustatius earlier this year as part of a claim introduced by twelve units of Russian shipping firm Sovcomflot, according to a copy of the judge’s decision in the injunction.

The cargo of tanker NS Columbus, carrying some US $20-million-worth of Venezuelan oil, was held in March under a

St. Maarten Court decision until a broader arbitration claim for unpaid freight costs to Sovcomflot is decided by a British court.

The crude has been stored at a rented facility at Statia Terminal as ordered by the Court, but Sovcomflot later requested a sales order of the oil to a third party as there was no guarantee that the crude would be insured while at the Terminal.

“The Court of First Instance condemns PDVSA to cooperate on sale by ship owners of the cargo oil…to the best possible terms, including as high a price as possible,” the order says.

PDVSA sent the crude cargo in October 2016 to Statia to be sold from there. But the owner of the NS Columbus tanker, a unit of Russian conglomerate Sovcomflot, asked the Court to hold the oil in hopes of collecting partial payment on $30 million that it says PDVSA owes for unpaid shipping fees.

Five months after crossing the Caribbean, the NS Columbus discharged the crude at Statia Terminal, owned by U.S.-based NuStar Energy where PDVSA rents storage tanks, under a temporary decision by the St. Maarten Court.

Source: The Daily Herald