Curacao refinery runs slow as PDVSA port backlog starts to ease
The 335,000-barrel-per-day Isla refinery operated by Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA in Curacao is working at minimum capacity while awaiting new crude shipments and as a tanker backlog in the country’s ports began to ease, four sources close to the facility told Reuters.
PDVSA’s operations this year have been mired by problems ranging from fast-declining crude production and poor refining due to a lack of equipment, to obstacles for exporting oil amid port congestion and financial sanctions.
Only a few units at the Curacao refinery have been operating during U.S. producer ConocoPhillips’ moves to seize PDVSA’s inventories, cargoes and facilities following a $2 billion arbitration award by the International Chamber of Commerce in April.
Port seeks to double rail volume with Railport Antwerpen
Railport Antwerp, a joint initiative by Antwerp Port Authority, the Left Bank Development Corporation and the industry associations Essenscia Vlaanderen and VOKA-Alfaport, is to expand its activities. The company will actively serve rail transport in the port, including intermodal container transport, with the aim of doubling the proportion of rail transport in the port of Antwerp over the next few years. An important step in this process is the appointment of Nils van Vliet as CEO.
Port of Virginia, major shipping hub for US commerce, plans big expansion
The Port of Virginia is one of the most significant ports in the United States. It facilitates $242 million worth of commerce a day, and a full 9 percent — or 343,000 — of Virginia’s jobs are port-related.
But there’s a problem. It’s not big enough. Not when cargo ships have gotten bigger, which threatens both business and safety. Experts say deepening and widening of the port at its channel is crucial.
Rick Wester, captain of the Port of Virginia, notes the channel isn’t wide enough with ships double or triple the size they were a decade ago. “About three of four times a week, whenever [the biggest ships] enter or leave port, I have to impose one-way traffic because it’s just too narrow for them to meet any other ships,” he said.
Furthermore, the channel is only 50 feet deep, which means many of the larger ships would run aground if fully loaded. Wester explains, “These ships draw 55 feet [so] we don’t allow them to come into port… they can only partially load both coming in and leaving—they’ve not using their capacity.”
Over 114,000 U.S. businesses rely on goods from the Port of Virginia, but the channel is limiting its ability to expand. Thus there’s a plan to dredge and widen the waterway — it’s even caught the attention of President Trump, who stated the port “could be one of the best in the world if they invested not that much money, relatively speaking.”
How much is that? Around a billion dollars. Virginia has already secured $695 million in private and state investment, and the state is asking for $300 million more from the federal government.