PDVSA leases facilities on two of the islands, so ConocoPhillips cannot take them over even with a court order, but it could seize Venezuela’s oil stored in them and any state-owned ships that dock there, said Russ Dallen, a Venezuela expert.

Two of the island storage facilities have the capacity to hold crude valued at $900 million, about half of Venezuela’s monthly production, Dallen said.

“It’s a devastating blow to a beleaguered country that can’t even feed its population,” said Dallen, adding that Venezuela owes billions to investors around the world. “We’re going to see a lot more of these in the future.”