St. Croix Chamber of Commerce Board Supports VI Governor's 'Refine or Sell' Demand to HOVENSA
Many St. Croix business leaders stand behind Gov. John de Jongh's hard-line stance requiring the now-closed HOVENSA Oil Refinery to Return to Operations or Sell to another company.
By: The St. Croix Chamber of Commerce
In response, to Gov. de Jongh's announcement, The St. Croix Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors released the following statement.
"The St. Croix Chamber of Commerce acknowledges the nearly half century of contributions of HESS and HOVENSA to our community; especially the fondness and generosity that the late Leon Hess had for St. Croix and our residents and institutions. His personal interest and generosity to St. Croix was truly amazing and unique.
The Chamber supports Governor de Jongh in his efforts to act in the long-term best interests of St. Croix and the Territory, as a whole.
The members of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce are cognizant of the fact that HOVENSA still has obligations to the EPA under its consent decree as well as potentially significant land reclamation costs. A deferment of those costs are in their best interest. Regardless, HOVENSA should stand ready to abide by the terms of the Third Extension Agreement.
The Chamber supports the idea that the highest and best use of the resources at HOVENSA should be utilized in the spirit of protecting free enterprise and yet maintaining the tax base and the revenue stream for the VI Government.
We encourage Hess and PDVSA to work with the people of St. Croix to achieve a near term strategy that results in the efficient operation of an oil refinery on St Croix providing jobs and revenues and using a fuel that will also allow us to produce more affordable electricity for our residents.
Signed, St. Croix Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors"
The Chamber welcomes feedback from interested parties on its Chamber poll: https://www.surveymonkey.com/
Visit The Chamber website at http://www.stxchamber.org.
BACKGROUND SUMMARY: After nearly 50 years of operation on St. Croix, Hovensa, LLC announced Jan. 18 that it planned to close the refinery, shocking many in the Virgin Islands, including the government. Since that time, the government retained the services of independent advisory firm Duff & Phelps to guide the government in negotiations with Hovensa.
At the time of closure, Hovensa issued this statement: “We deeply regret the closure of the HOVENSA refinery and the impact on our dedicated people,” said Brian K. Lever, President and Chief Operating Officer of HOVENSA. “We explored all available options to avoid this outcome, but severe financial losses left us with no other choice. We will provide significantly enhanced benefits for those union and salaried employees who are impacted and will work closely with the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands to ease the transition for the rest of the community.”
Duff & Phelps has advised the government that the best use for the Hovensa facility is as an oil refinery. Gov. de Jongh stated that to allow Hovensa to operate an oil storage terminal leaves the VI with all of the environmental and safety risks and very little benefit.
On Wednesday, August 8, local newspaper, the St. Croix Avis released a story naming one company who is interested in purchasing the refinery - Tanne Petroleum.
For an interview with members of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce contact Perry Sheraw.