Derecho Marítimo

Third Quarter Report –Venezuela –

This section highlights excerpts of relevant press releases and brief comments on our views regarding such.

«Trinidad and Tobago will survey the NABARIMA vessel, stranded in the Gulf of Paria“

The Ministry of Energy of Trinidad and Tobago and the government of Venezuela agreed to allow access to surveyors to the Nabarima, located in the Gulf of Paria.

The purpose is to verify that the vessel has indeed been stabilized and that oil leaks do not pose a threat, as reported by the Venezuelan government.

The Venezuelan-flagged M/V Nabarima contains about 1.2 million barrels of oil and belongs to the joint venture PetroSucre, operated by the state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. and the Italian company ENI as a minority stakeholder.


«Curacao leased storage tanks to replace contract with PDVSA“

The Curaçao state-owned refinery Di Korsou (RdK) awarded SPS Drilling E&P Ltd., a lease for approximately 25% of the storage tanks at their Bullenbay terminal.

The decision came after the state-owned company has been trying since 2018 to find a new operator or buyer for the facilities in order to replace PDVSA, whose lease expired on December 2019.

Recently Di Korsou, filed a claim against the Venezuelan oil company before a Court of the State of New York, given the lack of payment since the beginning of 2018 until December 2019, date in which the agreement between both parties ended.



«PDVSA shipped 2 million barrels of oil in their own tanker“

GORKI, a Venezuelan-owned vessel formerly called AYACUCHO, flying the Russian flag, set sail from the Port of Jose in Anzoátegui with 2 million barrels of oil bound for Singapore. Sources have stated that now the cargo will allegedly be discharged in Fujairah, in the United Arab Emirates.

Recently, the state-owned oil company PDVSA has been offering agreements for the export of crude, handling themselves the carriage to the buyer’s destination, using their own fleet. Previously, PDVSA operated with buyers sending their own vessels to pick up the cargo in Venezuela.

This new practice, provides the buyer with an alternative to try to avoid U.S. sanctions.



«Bonaire ordered PDVSA to empty their tanks at the Bopec Terminal due to environmental risks»

The government of Bonaire ordered PDVSA to empty their tanks and pipelines located at the Bopec Terminal, where it stores about 10 million barrels of crude. The order came as a consequence to recent environmental risks, caused by leaks due to lack of proper maintenance.


«The U.S. might revoke exceptional licenses for Oil Companies in Venezuela on October”

The U.S. government has considered terminating the exceptional licenses granted to some companies and refineries to continue receiving oil from Venezuela without being sanctioned. Among the companies affected are the Italian ENI, Spainish Repsol, Indian Reliance Industries and Thai Tipco Asphalt.


«They claim that the seizure of four fuel tankers by the U.S., belong to Venezuela and not Iran»

The U.S. Department of Justice reported the seizure of four fuel shipments from Iran that were to be carried to Venezuela.

The Iranian Oil Minister claimed that neither the vessels nor the cargo are Iranian, therefore the property confiscated should be Venezuelan. The fuel cargo seized was carried on the vessels Luna, Pandi, Bering and Bella, which were redirected to the State of Texas, in the United States.


«Venezuela was granted a new grace period to postpone oil payments to China”

The Chinese government authorized Venezuela to postpone until December the oil payments for outstanding debts, including particularly to the China Development Bank.

Venezuela has not been able to comply with the oil shipments corresponding to their obligations with China –for the sum of over 3 billion dollars – particularly, after the Chinese state-oil company CNPC, stopped receiving Venezuelan oil directly, on fear of being sanctioned by the United States.


«The last oil drilling platform leaves Venezuela»

The U.S. company, Nabors, ceased operations of the last oil drilling platform that was active in Venezuela. Operations were continuously affected, after several delays, failures and robberies. Then after the U.S. sanctions and the decision was made.

The drilling platform had been operating in the Petropiar field, by a joint venture between Chevron and PDVSA.


«Owens-Illinois claims Venezuelan tanker to collect expropriation debt»

Owens-Illinois Inc., a U.S. glass manufacturer, who in 2010 was expropriated two of its plants located in Venezuela, filed a lawsuit in Singapore claiming on an oil tanker owned by PDVSA, in order to collect part of a $500 million arbitration award dating back to 2015.




«U.S. re-thinking Venezuela’s Diesel Swaps”

The U.S. government will re-evaluate the diesel swaps that have been exempted from sanctions so far on humanitarian basis. Repsol, ENI and Reliance have been involved in these transactions with PDVSA, under the authorization of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Under the swap arrangements, Repsol and ENI lift Venezuelan crude as payment for PdV’s exclusive offtake of natural gas from their Perla offshore field and other debts, with diesel sent back to settle their books. Reliance, which was Venezuela’s top diesel supplier in the second quarter, recently resumed the swaps after a June pause to ensure sanctions compliance.”

The decision will be reconsidered, as State Department and White House National Security Council (NSC) officials believe that the licenses have allowed and helped President Nicolas Maduro to remain in power.


«Treasury Department extended license protecting CITGO stock»

General License 5D issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to protect CITGO’s stock was extended until October 20th 2020.

The License states that between July 22 and October 20, transactions involving the sale, purchase or transfer of CITGO stock in connection with the 8.5% PDVSA 2020 bond are prohibited unless otherwise authorized.

* License 5D has been superseded and replaced by License 5E which extends the prohibition until 19 January 2021.



This section comments on relevant case law during the corresponding quarter and our brief comments to it.

Decision by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court No. 0078 dated July 7, 2020:

State and municipal taxes are suspended for a period of 90 days, starting July 7th 2020.

Decision by the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court No. 125 dated August 27, 2020:

The Chamber, considering the difficulties caused by COVID-19, provided for the possibility to file Extraordinary Appeals of Cassation in digital form by e-mail on PDF format. However, the original of the document must be submitted as soon as the applicant is allowed to attend the Chamber’s Office.

The opposing party will be notified by e-mail, telephone or any other digital means in order to have the opportunity to reply.


This section expands on National and International Legislation adopted in the country and relevant to the industry.

National Decree No. 4.255 dated July 16, 2020.

Giuseppe Alesandro Martín Alessandrello Cimadevilla was appointed President of the National Institute of Aquatic Spaces (INEA).

National Decree No. 4.279 dated September 2, 2020.

The National Executive suspended for a period of 6 months, starting September 2, 2020, the lease payments for commercial rentals and main residences, in order to mitigate the economic situation of the tenants due to the effect of the global pandemic.

In this regard, the corresponding payments will not be due until April 2021.

However, the suspension will not be applied in cases where commercial activity is resumed prior to the maximum term established in the Decree. The same applies with commercial establishments that given the nature of their activity are operating or providing active services under the provisions set forth by the National Executive.

The parties will resume the payments later under mutually agreed terms, and will re-structure the debt. The owner may not force the lessee to pay in full the total amount due immediately upon expiration of the suspension period.

Notice No. 019 (Special Notice-014 COVID-19) dated August 25, 2020 from the Maritime Authorities.

The Maritime Authorities, National Institute of Aquatic Spaces, issued the «Guidelines for the International Mobilization of Seafarers to carry out activities related to crew changes and repatriation», the notice provides for Seafarers, identified as «Key Workers» to board or disembark vessels, by request to the authorities.

The Shipowners, through their representatives or agents, will be in charge of ensuring the carriage of the «Key Workers» to their final destination, as well as to cover all expenses related to mobilization, food and lodging. Seafarers or employees who do not have representation in Venezuela must establish contact with the Foundation for Merchant Marine Officers’ Association or any Shipping Agency with representation in Venezuela, so that they can make the necessary arrangements for their repatriation to their country of residence and vice versa.

  1. BILLS

This section lists draft regulations/bills being proposed to and/or discussed in Congress.

The National Constituent Assembly presented the bill «Anti-Blockade Law for National Development and Guarantee of Human Rights», which allegedly will provide the Public Power with the necessary legal gears to mitigate the effect of any sanctions against Venezuela issued by a foreign State, group of States, or foreign public or private entities.

An Observatory was created to prepare reports, proposals and statistics on the subject, to be delivered to the Public Power.

The Law will allow the National Executive with ample and sufficient powers to serve the contingency, including among other, to develop a compensation systems for workers’ salaries, to increase national productive capacity, address strategic industries and a selective substitution of import goods.

The National Executive may apply or void any legal provision are its convenience; and may re-arrange and re-structure any public, mixed or private companies. The bill includes a number of exceptional powers to the Executive Branch, who will then assume extraordinary powers overlapping those of the National Assembly and the Supreme Court of Justice.