Government shelves Chinese petroleum venture

The central government said Thursday that it was pulling out of a joint venture with a Chinese firm to build a modern petroleum refinery on the Caribbean coast.

Casa Presidencial said that Sara Salazar of the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo, the state monopoly, conveyed this information to a legislative committee Thursday. The decision had been taken by the refinery’s board of directors, said an announcement.

The joint venture began in 2009 with the Sociedad Reconstructora Chino Costarricense S. A.. Government sources said that $12 million already was invested in setting up the venture.

Casa Presidencial said that a new feasibility study required changes in the initial agreement, and the Chinese firm did not agree to this. In addition, there was an effort to transfer half of the partnership to a third party, the announcement said.

Casa Presidencial was quick to say that the idea originated with an earlier government. The administration of Luis Guillermo Solís is not friendly to petroleum and its products.

The paperwork for the joint venture was criticized highly by the Contraloría General de la República, the budget watchdog.

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