SAN JUAN – The Antigua and Barbuda government announced Thursday that it has secured complete ownership of the West Indies Oil Company Limited, known as WIOC.
“It is one of the most significant transactions to have taken place within the last four decades in this country, perhaps to be only superseded by the acquisition of the syndicate lands by the late Father of the Nation Sir V.C. Bird (Vere Cornwall Bird) Sr.,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne said in a statement.
Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin and Foreign Minister Charles Fernandez accompanied Browne to London earlier this week to complete the transaction.
“This transaction will see well in advance of $150 million in value being placed in the hands of the people of Antigua and Barbuda. It is a most empowering initiative,” Browne said.
Founded in 1961, WIOC was purchased in 1976 by the government of Antigua and Barbuda, which four years later sold 75 percent of the company to National Petroleum.
The government’s plan calls for immediately selling 49 percent of WIOC to the government of Venezuela, who will own 25 percent of the shares, and a Chinese investor.
Currently, WIOC facilities operate only as a terminal for oil products with capacity for storing up to 322,000 barrels.