WILLEMSTAD--Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA will operate Curaçao’s 335,000 barrel-per-day refinery for up to one year more, a spokesman for refinery holding “Refineria di Kòrsou” said on Sunday.

   PDVSA’s lease contract was set to expire at the end of this year. The agreement was described as a “transitional” arrangement while the holding continues efforts to find a new operator.

  In September exclusive talks for such were announced with industrial commodities conglomerate Klesch Group. The intention at the time was that a definite deal would be reached by the end of November, but negotiations are still ongoing.

   Seeing its local subsidiary “Refineria Isla” lose the refinery would be a further blow to PDVSA, which has seen its crude output plunge by more than half since 2016 due to underinvestment and mismanagement, and more recently due to US sanctions intended to force out Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

  PDVSA President Manuel Quevedo, also Venezuela’s oil minister, visited Curaçao in July to discuss the possibility of the company staying on to operate the refinery. Holding representatives met with Quevedo in Caracas on Saturday to discuss a transition arrangement, the Caracas-based company said in a statement, adding that the parties also discussed the possibility of doing maintenance work on the refinery.

  Neither PDVSA nor Venezuela’s oil ministry immediately responded to requests for comment.

  In May, the US government issued a license allowing Curaçao’s refinery to keep working with PDVSA through January 2020 despite the sanctions. The holding said the license allowed for an additional transition period of up to one year, during which the company can generate the revenue needed to maintain refining operations and pay workers, but not turn a profit.